Guest Post — April 26, 2013
Note from Dan: Some of you will remember the video below, from March 2012, when police in Richmond mistreated women who marched on Capitol Square to protest Virginia Republicans’ “War on Women.” Well, it’s happening again tomorrow, and below, Sally Foster Mullikin tells us a little about it. She’s a Franklin County native who now lives in Richmond, where she’s active in a number of causes.
By Sally Foster Mullikin
Roanoke’s demographics have been forced into the spotlight of Virginia politics. Last year, starting in February, women throughout the State of Virginia and beyond descended on our State Capitol in response to Del. Chris Head’s (R-Roanpoke) co-sponsorship of the Transvaginal Ultrasound bill (along with Lynchburg’s Kathy Byron who drafted and sponsored it).
The women of Virginia were furious over this as well as a personhood bill and many other attempts by the General Assembly to force government into our uteruses. February began with a protest called “Speak Loudly with Silence” where nearly 1500 or more women, men, and children lined the streets of the Capitol from the administration buildings to the house chambers.
My fondest memory was Senator Donald McEachin with tears in his eyes walking the gauntlet of silent protestors saying, “thank you for standing up for your civil rights, God bless you.” After that initial rally, women’s rights supporters picketed the Governors Mansion and ultimately were arrested sitting on the steps of the State Capitol. (The essay continues below the video)
As we garnered national attention and our elected officials were made the laughingstock of late-night television, many of these bills failed in the house in 2012. This year we are facing an even larger threat to women’s rights as the race for the Governor’s Mansion heats up.
Our Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli has pushed TRAP Laws (targeted regulation of abortion providers) through the Virginia Board of Health to enforce building codes on abortion providers in order to force costly improvements to clinics that have nothing to do with health care.
Better yet, the disparate treatment is evident as these regulations are not forced on the place you get a colonoscopy, cosmetic or dental surgeries. Abortion and health clinics throughout the state (from Dan: but not in Roanoke, fyi) will now have to close due to these regulations. The saddest part is that the underprivileged, poorest women in Virginia will be the most affected.Wealthy women can afford to travel and acquire abortion coverage through their insurance which brings me to another topic.
Now with the new healthcare exchange in place, financially challenged families can now afford health insurance. The problem is with abortion coverage for the poor — even if they want to purchase a rider policy and pay for it with their own money, our Governor has signed a bill making this impossible. So now all of our elected officials in higher office in Virginia are chipping away at Roe v Wade and women’s rights.
No one actively is pro abortion, (we all dislike the idea of abortions) however in this case, the wealthy are the only people who can afford an abortion in Virginia’s future. If we remain apathetic, our elected officials, locally as well as in our Governor’s mansion will create a male- dominated, theological ideology in our laws and we will be governed by a group who do not trust women.
This is basically the beginning, middle and end of the argument over women’s rights. These lawmakers do not trust women. This year again we are holding a rally tomorrow, Saturday at the State Capitol in Richmond and invite you to join us.
Richmond is but a few hours from Roanoke. It’s at 2 pm at the Bell Tower, downtown Richmond at the State Capitol. We appropriately named the event, “WOMEN MATTER: Use Your Power.”
We all must understand that what happens in Richmond affects us all. Women do matter and our elected officials need to trust us. Again, no one is pro abortion, however if you really address the constitution, we all have a right to feel safe in our bodies and a vaginal ultrasound can be considered unlawful search and seizure. Either way, we are at a turning point in Virginia’s and our nation’s history.
We must elect politicians who support women’s rights, from equal pay, ratifying the ERA, voters rights, to reproductive and healthcare rights. Unless the women of Virginia stand up and demand we are heard starting now, we will once again have a Governor and officials in Richmond who will politicize the elected offices they are elected to hold and pass unfair laws proving they don’t trust women.