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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Virginia raises a toast to George Washington’s whiskey


George Washington is recognized as the father of our country, but with a bill signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Washington also will be recognized under another title – distiller of Virginia’s official liquor.

SB 1261, sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin of Alexandria, adds a “state spirit” to the list of the commonwealth’s official emblems and designations and crowns George Washington’s rye whiskey with the title.

The bill, which McAuliffe signed last week, highlights George Washington’s contributions to the culture of Virginia as “a native son of Virginia born on February 22, 1732, in Pope’s Creek”; “the first American president, commander of the Continental Army, and president of the Constitutional Convention”; and “a model statesman ... universally acknowledged as the father of our nation.” > Read more.

McAuliffe vetoes 6 more bills; GOP calls him ‘disengaged’


Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Monday vetoed six bills, including three Republicans said would help prevent voter fraud but the Democratic governor said would create barriers to voting.

McAuliffe has now vetoed 37 bills from the General Assembly’s 2017 session – and 108 during his four-year term as governor, surpassing any of his predecessors.

Republican legislative leaders say McAuliffe has broken his promise to be bipartisan, calling his office “the most disengaged administration we have ever worked with.” > Read more.

HSWCD to give away tree seedlings Thursday and Friday


Henricopolis Soil and Water Conservation District will hold its annual tree seedling giveaway March 30 at Dorey Park Shelter 1 from 2:30 to 6 p.m., and March 31 at Hermitage High School from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

Studies show that mature trees increase property value, decrease summertime cooling costs by providing shade, slow erosion and reduce flooding. They also provide homes for birds, food for countless creatures, and playgrounds for children. > Read more.

Dog rescued, no one injured in Northside townhouse fire


MAR. 27, 11 A.M. – No one was injured by a townhouse fire that occurred early Monday morning in the 200 block of Knightsmanor Court, near the intersection of Azalea Avenue and Richmond-Henrico Turnpike.

The first Henrico Fire officials were on scene in less than four minutes and found heavy smoke and flames coming from the two-story townhouse. Firefighters from the first-arriving fire engine and ladder truck made their way to the townhome involved in fire and searched for victims through high heat and reduced visibility. > Read more.

Walk, ceremony to observe Crime Victims’ Rights Week

In observance of National Crime Victims' Rights Week (April 2-8), and to honor victims of crime in Henrico County and raise awareness about crime victims' rights and issues, Henrico County Victim/Witness will hold a commemorative ceremony and informative walk April 5. > Read more.
Community

Villa’s Flagler Housing wins national NAEH award


St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.

Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.

RIR’s Christmas tree lighting rescheduled for Dec. 12


Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.

Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
Entertainment

Metro Diner to open second Henrico location


Metro Diner, a comfort food concept, will open its second Henrico location next month. The company is accepting job applications for its Libbie Place location at 5626 West Broad Street. The diner concept, known for its fried chicken and waffles, meatloaf, and shrimp and grits, will bring 100 new jobs to the region as it plans to open its doors in April.

The 3,500-square-foot diner located in the Libbie Place Shopping Center will seat more than 100 and serve classic comfort food staples with a twist, such as fried chicken and waffles topped with strawberry butter and a stuffed challah bread French toast with strawberry and blueberry compote. > Read more.

 

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Regency Square Mall will host the arrival of the Easter Bunny with breakfast in the spring garden from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Ages 10 and under. Seating is limited. To register, call 740-1518. The Easter Bunny will remain until Apr. 15. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday (with half-hour breaks at 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.) and from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday (with a break from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.). Visits are free; photo packages vary in price. For details, visit http://www.shopregencysqmall.com. Full text

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