May 16, 2019
Fighting for reproductive rights and freedom takes courage and fortitude. It is an issue that divides politically, ideologically and morally.
That truth became more real to me during the previous General Assembly session than ever before. This past session anti-abortion politicians launched a coordinated and vicious disinformation campaign that not only personally attacked pro-choice elected officials, but the Virginia women and families who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect when it comes to their ability to make their own personal healthcare decisions. Not treated like criminals.
NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia is no stranger to adversity or criticism. When anti- abortion politicians in Virginia decided to stoop to the lowest of levels, using inflammatory falsehoods about women’s reproductive healthcare earlier this year, we continued to fight back with truth and facts. That is because Virginian’s most basic, fundamental rights and freedoms came under attack like no other time I can remember in my two decades of advocacy. Now with a U.S. Supreme Court openly hostile to reproductive rights, and anti-choice politicians in Washington and Richmond willing to use outright lies and deception to score political points in order to maintain power and control, backing down or showing weakness is not an option. Now is the time to stand up and stand strong. There is simply too much to lose. Women’s health, lives and freedom are literally on the line.
This is not hyperbole. Anti-choice Republicans have been working, systematically and strategically, for decades to gut or overturn Roe v. Wade, outlaw abortion, and punish women. But the attacks on reproductive freedom are ramping up — and with a new and terrifying level of Trumpian cruelty to them.
Look no further than Georgia and Alabama.
Just last week we watched anti-choice Governor Brian Kemp sign into law an abortion ban that makes abortion illegal before many women even know they’re pregnant and could throw doctors in jail and lead to women being investigated for a miscarriage.
And on Tuesday night we witnessed the Alabama state legislator pass a total abortion ban that could lead to women being prosecuted and doctors being sent to prison for up to 99 years. The most extreme anti-abortion law in history.
Then on Wednesday, we learned that right here in Virginia, anti-choice politician Del. Bob Thomas said that if Virginia’s anti-choice republicans maintain in control of the General Assembly, he would like them to pass similar legislation that would outlaw abortion here in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The stakes could not be higher and we need to fortify Virginia for a post-Roe world.
It is also, in these times, when we are able to see who is with us and who is not. After all, it is easy to stand with your friends in times of success, but when things get tough, it is who is still standing next to you that tells us more.
Senator Dick Saslaw has been a legislator who has been unwavering in his commitment to protecting a woman’s personal decision about when, if, how and with whom to start a family.
And, perhaps, because he serves in a leadership position himself, he has stood with us through thick and thin.
It is for that reason, and due to his lifetime of fighting for women’s reproductive health and rights, — even when it may not have been politically expedient for him to do so- that NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia PAC is proud to endorse him once again for re-election.
For the first time in history, Virginia has an opportunity to flip both chambers in the General Assembly and establish a pro-choice majority legislature needed to pass meaningful and lasting laws that protect and expand access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare and solidify rights for all Virginians.
We are confident that with Senator Saslaw serving potentially as the next Majority Leader in the state Senate, we can make historic advances for reproductive rights and maternal healthcare needs. This is especially needed for the most underserved and marginalized populations — young, rural, low-income women, and women of color — who are often disproportionately impacted when their access to healthcare is threatened or out of reach.
That means repealing the politically motivated, medically unnecessary laws on the books that are designed to shut down women’s health centers that provide abortion, and ending the arbitrary waiting periods requiring patients to return to the clinic two or three times before receiving care, as well as mandatory ultrasounds and biased counseling before being able to access their constitutionally protected right to abortion.
We can also push forward proactive measures that advance access to contraception and abortion such as codifying bodily autonomy in the code of Virginia, that grants individuals the freedom to decide if and when to become a parent or expand their families.
Senator Saslaw advocated for these policies when he was first elected, and still advocates for them today alongside with the overwhelming majority of Virginians- 72%- who trust a woman to make her own personal healthcare decisions, free from political interference.
He is a tried and true defender of reproductive rights. A proven champion for women and families across Virginia. And we are proud to stand with him, as he has for Virginians throughout his career, and to continue to work together to move Virginia forward.
Tarina Keene — Executive Director NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia