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Virginia Democrats spurn ‘personhood’ bill


Virginia Democratic leaders are speaking out against Republican legislation that they said seeks to make abortion illegal and even might restrict access to some forms of legal birth control.

The Democrats lashed out at House Bill 1, which would define a human embryo or fetus as a person under state law. The bill, introduced by Delegate Bob Marshall, R-Manassas, states that, beginning at conception, unborn children have “all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of this Commonwealth,” regardless of their stage of development.

The bill also declares that, “Unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being.”

Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Donald McEachin of Richmond and Henrico County and Delegate Charniele Herring of Alexandria held a conference call Thursday to discuss the bill and what they describe as “efforts to advance dangerous, divisive and distracting personhood legislation by state and national Republicans including George Allen and Mitt Romney.”
McEachin calls the bill “an abhorrent attack on women’s rights.”

Herring agrees.

“It could have the effect of limiting access to reproductive health care, even in the case of rape, incest or possible death of the mother,” Herring said. “It could also limit women’s access to common forms of FDA-approved forms of contraception.”

(However, Marshall’s bill states that “Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as affecting lawful assisted conception.”)

HB 1 was the first piece of legislation submitted for consideration by the House during the General Assembly session that began Wednesday. The measure has been referred to the House Courts of Justice Committee.

In previous legislative sessions, bills of this nature have been passed by the Republican-controlled House of Delegates but were halted in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Such measures often died in the Senate Education and Health Committee.

But because of last fall’s elections, Democrats lost their 22-18 majority in the Senate. The 40 senators now are evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who presides over the Senate and can cast tie-breaking votes, is a Republican.

As a result, measures like HB 1 have a greater chance of being passed and becoming law.

“We’re not in a position to stop bills like this as we once were,” McEachin said. “That’s why we’re here. That’s why it’s important to get the word out to Virginians.”

Herring said she considers the bill a distraction from problems such as poverty, joblessness, underfunded schools and roads needing repair.

“With [Republicans’] newfound power, you might expect them to get right to work in creating jobs and improving education, but unfortunately that’s not the case,” Herring said. “This kind of legislation … won’t help Virginia business, won’t make college more affordable for young adults, and it won’t make our streets safer.”

To track of comment on Delegate Bob Marshall’s bill, visit Richmond Sunlight: http://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2012/hb1/


Community

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.

Highland Springs field to be dedicated in honor of longtime coach Spears

The Henrico Division of Recreation and Parks will dedicate the Highland Springs Little League Majors Field in memory and honor of Rev. Robert “Bob” L. Spears, Jr., on April 12 with a ceremony at the field at 8 a.m.

Spears served the league as a coach and volunteer for 30 years and was praised as a pioneer for equality. His “Finish strong” motto embodied ethical perseverance on the field and in life. > 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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