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
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.
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.
If the snow last weekend had you stuck at home, then you will appreciate free admission all weekend long at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden! Other free options this weekend include a Classic Family Film series at Varina Library, “Crafternoon” at Libbie Mill Library and the tenth annual Richmond Jewish Food Festival taking place Sunday and Monday at the Weinstein JCC. Concert options include the 8th annual Djangoary Music Soiree at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen and Flight Risk, performing at The Tin Pan. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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CalendarThe Richmond Concert Chorale will hold auditions for singers with experience from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at All Saints Episcopal Church, 8787 River Rd. To request an audition, call 514-8577 or visit http://www.richmondconcertchorale.org. Full text