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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.


Community

MADD walk raises more than $26,000

The Central Virginia chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) hosted its annual Walk Like MADD fundraiser April 12 at Dorey Park in Varina. More than 20 teams of walkers raised money from individual donors by participating in the walk, and in total the event generated more than $26,000 in donations for the organization. > Read more.

Varina Ruritans honor students

The Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.

The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)

The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.

Baseball game to benefit Glen Allen Buddy Ball


For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.

The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Do the Bunny Hop over to Meadow Farm on Saturday for an introduction to all the farm animals there! An introduction to “Global Sounds” – featuring Japanese, Indonesian, West African, Indian, and Brazilian music and dance performances – can be found at the University of Richmond. The University of Richmond will also host the annual Spider spring game, as well as the inaugural Spiders Easter Egg Hunt. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

A fun, fuzzy ride

‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise

Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.

They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.

As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.

Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.

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