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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HCPS wins national honor for overhaul of Code of Student Conduct, supports


Henrico County Public Schools recently was recognized by the National School Boards Association for a sweeping overhaul of the school division’s approach to student supports. HCPS was one of five large U.S. school systems recognized with a first-place honor in the 2017 Magna Awards, presented Saturday in Denver at the organization’s annual conference. The awards recognize school divisions and leaders “for taking bold and innovative steps to improve the lives of students and their communities,” according to the group.

The award recognizes Henrico Schools’ efforts of the past several years, from re-examining its policies to implementing more support systems. After a two-year conversation with the community through public hearings and other feedback, HCPS adopted a revised Code of Student Conduct for the 2015-16 school year. > Read more.

Environmentalists say budget hurts efforts to protect bay

Environmental groups are outraged at the Trump administration’s proposed funding cuts for Chesapeake Bay cleanup programs.

President Donald Trump’s budget plan, released last week, reduces the budget for the federal Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent. That includes a $427 million in funding to address regional pollution, such as the Chesapeake Bay protection efforts. The proposed budget would eliminate funding for the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, which received $73 million from the federal government in 2016. > Read more.

Glen Allen ES principal receives REB Award


Melissa Halquist-Pruden, principal of Henrico County’s Glen Allen Elementary School, earned the 2016-17 REB Award for Distinguished Educational Leadership. The Community Foundation presents the award to four principals annually – one each from the school systems of Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover counties and one from the city of Richmond schools.

The award recognizes principals who go beyond the day-to-day demands of their jobs to create an exceptional educational environment. The award stresses management and communication skills, and the ability to inspire, encourage and advocate for the school. > Read more.

Grant to help Hermitage H.S. upgrade CTE program equipment


Governor Terry McAuliffe announced recently that Henrico County’s Hermitage H.S. will be among 16 high schools and technical centers statewide to receive a grant to upgrade equipment for career and technical education (CTE) programs.

The program gives priority to challenged schools, Governor's STEM Academies and Governor's Health Science Academies. Each school or center will receive $37,500 to purchase new equipment and make other necessary improvements. At Hermitage, the funds will be used for precision machining equipment. > Read more.

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.
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

Weekend Top 10


For our Top 10 calendar events this weekend, click here! > Read more.

 

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The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club meets the second and fourth Mondays of each month from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. at the E. Bruce Heilman Dining Center at the University of Richmond. Each meeting features breakfast and an interesting speaker. For details, call Pete Sizemore at 288-0999. Full text

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