Activists call for abortion restrictions

More than 150 anti-abortion activists rallied at Capitol Square on Thursday to urge Gov. Bob McDonnell to support abortion clinic regulations and other “pro-life” bills.

At the rally at the Bell Tower, Delegate Bob Marshall, R-Manassas, discussed House Bill 1440, which states that “the life of each human being begins at conception” and that “unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being.”

“This is recognition that that is a person,” Marshall said.

He said his bill’s goal is to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, which gives women the right to have an abortion.

“If we can affirm this principle in one area … [we] can affirm it elsewhere,” Marshall said.

Rita Dunaway of Valley Family Forum, a “traditional values” group in the Shenandoah Valley, said that because the Supreme Court will not recognize an unborn child as a person, states must do so.

“By recognizing the rights of the unborn child, the states can create a counterweight to the mother’s rights,” Dunaway said.

Alveda King, director of African-American outreach for a group called Priests for Life, urged Virginians to support regulating abortion clinics. King said that if Virginia’s 21 clinics were regulated, about 17 would be closed.

Currently, abortion clinics are regulated the same way as offices where patients receive oral or plastic surgery. Abortion opponents want the state to force the facilities to meet hospital-like standards.

That’s the intent of House Bill 1428, sponsored by Delegate Richard Bell, R-Staunton. It would require “all abortion clinics, defined as any facility other than a hospital or an ambulatory surgery center in which 25 or more first-trimester abortions are performed in any 12-month period, to be licensed and regulated by the Board of Health.”

On Wednesday, HB 1428 was assigned to a subcommittee of the House Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions.

Courtney Jones, manager of grassroots organizing for the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood, said the cost of meeting the hospital standards would be prohibitive. As a result, she said, many clinics would have to shut down – but not because they are unsafe.

Jones said all of Planned Parenthood’s abortion facilities already are clean and sterile. Last year, all members of the General Assembly – including Marshall – were invited to visit the Virginia clinics and see for themselves, Jones said. She said Marshall declined.

However, John Seeds, a doctor with 40 years’ experience in obstetrics and gynecology, questioned the safety of Virginia abortion clinics.

He said Virginia should follow the example of Arizona and South Carolina and enforce safety standards for abortion facilities, such as sanitation and cleanliness.

“The women of the commonwealth expect, assume that the basic safety standards are met when they walk into a clinic for surgical procedures like abortion,” Seeds said. “But in Virginia, when they walk into an abortion clinic, they cannot assume they are safe.”

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has given McDonnell the thumbs-up to sign HB 1428 into law if the General Assembly passes the bill.

“It is my opinion that the commonwealth has the authority to promulgate regulations for facilities in which first-trimester abortions are performed as well as for providers of first-trimester abortions, so long as the regulations adhere to constitutional limitations,” Cuccinelli stated.
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Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden will present the Dominion GardenFest of Lights nightly from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Nov. 25 to Jan. 9 (closed Dec. 24-25). This year’s theme will explore "Living Color" and show how the world's kaleidoscope of colors speaks to people, impacts nature and influences culture. Visitors will see colorful translucent butterflies in flight, stained glass-inspired illuminations, sparkling white light transformed into a brilliant rainbow, floating flowers opening and reaching toward “sunlight,” fields of brightly colored blooms waving in the moonlight, illuminated spheres dancing in the sky, among other displays. The event features more than a half million lights, botanical decorations, trains, holiday dinners, family activities and more. Admission is $5 to $13. For details, visit http://www.lewisginter.org. Full text

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