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Marshall sees hope for ‘personhood’ bill

Now that Democrats no longer control the House or the Senate, Delegate Bob Marshall, R-Manassas, is hoping the General Assembly will pass his bill defining a human embryo or fetus is a person under the law.

House Bill 1 would provide that “unborn children at every stage of development enjoy all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of the Commonwealth.”

The bill, which is before the House Courts of Justice Committee, says that this “personhood” status starts “from the moment of conception.”
Marshall said HB 1 is significant for several reasons.

“We have a situation in Virginia where a pregnant woman can be shot, and if you kill the baby, it’s feticide. But she can’t recover damages separately in a civil lawsuit,” Marshall said. “That’s kind of an anomaly.”

Democrats have criticized HB 1 as an attempt to revoke a woman’s right to have an abortion. In past years, when Democrats controlled the Virginia Senate, such bills usually died in the Senate Education and Health Committee.

“This committee kills all abortion bills,” Marshall said. “In 21 years, I have seen only one bill go through the Senate Education and Health Committee.”
But Marshall is hopeful this year will be different. The Republicans not only control the House of Delegates, but last fall, they won two previously Democratic seats in the Senate. Now the upper chamber is equally split between the two parties.

That increases the chances that anti-abortion legislation will make it out of the Senate Education and Health Committee and to the Senate floor for a vote.
“Right now, it’s a swing issue.” Marshall said. “There’s a swing vote in that committee, and I can’t predict which way it will go.”

Democratic legislators have been quick to voice opposition to HB 1.

Sen. A. Donald McEachin, chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, called the bill “an attack on women’s rights.”

Delegate Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, agreed. She said there is “overwhelming and legitimate concern” because the full ramifications of Marshall’s proposal have not been determined.

“The patron assumes many things with his legislation, in which the language is not consistent with scientific or medical terminology related to the process of becoming pregnant,” Herring said.

Herring said HB 1 could make certain forms of birth control illegal.

“It may outlaw some forms of the birth control which are FDA-approved, which in addition to acting as birth control also has uses such as treatment of endometriosis,” Herring said.

However, HB 1 states that “Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as affecting lawful assisted conception.”

Marshall said his bill is not detrimental to women’s health rights. He says that he doesn’t understand how his critics can say such a thing.

“As far as they know, roughly half of the kids aborted are females. How is saying that a mother can sue for the wrongful death of a female child an attack on women’s rights? They need to explain that.”

You can track or comment on House Bill 1 on the Richmond Sunlight website: http://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2012/hb1
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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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