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Anti-choice bigots on the offensive in Virginia
Defend abortion rights

March 7, 2003 | Page 4

Dear Socialist Worker,

The Virginia State General Assembly is off its rocker. Anti-abortion bigots have managed to push through a wave of attacks on abortion rights, ultimately aimed at eliminating the right to choose in Virginia.

Some five pieces of legislation have passed through the Assembly recently. The House and Senate approved bills that ban what abortion opponents call "partial birth infanticide." Another law mandates parental consent.

Abortion opponents are so far gone that they have twice proposed a budget amendment that would end state funding for Planned Parenthood--only to find out that Planned Parenthood in Virginia does not receive state money for abortion services. This amendment puts at risk some $155,000 that Planned Parenthood receives for HIV and AIDS services.

In the most outrageous stunt to date, Delegate Richard Black sent small plastic models of fetuses to all members of the state Senate, with a letter that characterized abortion as being when "struggling infants are chemically scalded or slashed apart with jagged knives."

For all their moral preaching, these sexist bigots don't care about the well-being of women. Every year, 1.5 million women seek abortions nationwide, including 25,000 to 30,000 in Virginia. Whether abortion is legal or not, women will continue to have them--even if it means attempting self-inflicted abortions or seeking out back-alley abortionists.

Abortion rights in Virginia were already weak to begin with. Between 1996 and 2000, the number of abortion providers in the state dropped by 19 percent. Over 84 percent of counties in Virginia have no abortion provider at all.

If anti-abortion legislators in Virginia really cared about children, perhaps they would address the reality of life for poor children in Virginia--where one in eight children live in poverty and over 200,000 children have no health insurance.

Democratic Governor Mark Warner vetoed a ban on "partial-birth" abortion in 2002, and he has threatened to do so again. But the pressure from the right is enormous, and Warner himself has signed a series of anti-abortion laws that have opened the door for the latest wave of attacks.

We can't rely on Democrats like Warner to protect our rights. We need a strong, fighting movement for abortion rights which demands that every woman have the right to safe, legal and accessible abortion--and which can take back the debate on this issue.

We won't go back

Michele Bollinger, Washington, D.C.

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