Connect with us
[adrotate banner="51"]

Downtown

Senate shuts down bill to require ‘informed written consent’ for abortion

State legislators did not advance a Virginia House bill that advocates said would have provided more information to women seeking an abortion and which opponents saw as politicized and unnecessary.

Published

on

x

By Anna Chen

State legislators did not advance a Virginia House bill that advocates said would have provided more information to women seeking an abortion and which opponents saw as politicized and unnecessary.

House Bill 212, introduced by Del. Karen S. Greenhalgh, R-Virginia Beach, expanded the parameters of written consent already required by law of women seeking an abortion.

Medical providers would have been required to present patients with information such as a medical explanation of the procedure, the benefits, risks and other options such as adoption. A physician or nurse practitioner would be made available when requested to answer questions about the procedure. Providers would also need to inform patients of the gestational age of the fetus at the time of the abortion.

The bill also required the Department of Health to publish and supply in several languages the contact information of public and private agencies that could help with several aspects of birthing and raising a child, including adoption, counseling, and financial assistance. The department was also tasked with including in the materials a toll-free, 24-hour-a-day telephone number that orally identified the same information.

The bill originally proposed requiring informed consent by phone or in person at least 24 hours in advance of the procedure, but it was amended in the House.

The legislation was “passed by indefinitely” with a 10-5 vote in the Senate Education and Health committee.

Sen. Siobhan S. Dunnavant, R-Henrico, spoke in opposition of the bill during a subcommittee last week, calling it a hard moment as a legislator.

It has taken fortitude to be an anti-abortion OB-GYN over the past 30 years, she said. Dunnavant said every procedure should already have informed consent. If that is not given, the medical provider can be sued for “inadequate informed consent.”

“I just can’t support scripting that into the code in another place, because it is a really slippery slope,” Dunnavant said. The lawmaker held her position Thursday and was the only Republican lawmaker to join Democrats in passing by the bill.

Olivia Gans Turner, president of the anti-abortion organization Virginia Society for Human Life, supported the bill. The bill recognized that women need a requirement where they can obtain “medically accurate information,” she stated in an email.

Gans Turner became an anti-abortion activist after she said she had four separate and bad interactions in college while seeking an abortion provider.

The bill would allow women a chance to contemplate different options while they are juggling a “complex pregnancy situation,” Gans Turner stated. Medical providers deny women information that could help them make “wise decisions they can live with later,” according to Gans Turner.

If the bill passed, women would have the chance to learn more about their bodies, the development of their unborn child and other available services to continue their pregnancies, Gans Turner said.

“The only people who think this sort of bill hurts women are those in the abortion business and groups that promote abortion,” Gans Turner stated.

Greenhalgh said during the subcommittee on Friday, that the bill is “simply information.”

Greenhalgh previously worked as a counselor and advocate for women facing unplanned pregnancies.

“When a woman is in a crisis situation there is an instinctual feeling that you have to do something,” Greenhalgh said during the subcommittee. “There isn’t time to do the research that typically comes with other procedures.”

Kelly Lester, who said she previously worked at an abortion clinic, spoke in support of the bill. The legislation would help women make informed decisions about their unplanned pregnancies or medical procedures they choose for their body and health, she said.

“All women should be informed on anything they’re gonna do, whether it be getting their ears pierced or a tattoo done,” Lester said. “They deserve the right.”

Lester said she was never provided information about the procedure or recovery when she had an abortion. Women who visited the abortion clinic where she worked were not given accurate, informed consent, Lester said.

“We gave them a sheet of paper and the risks and the procedure was basically on that piece of paper and expected them to read it, and comprehend it and initial it,” Lester said. “They understood it, but we never really gave them the true information about what was going to happen.”

Jamie Lockhart, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, said she opposed the bill because it inserts politicians in the middle of private medical decisions, which should be left to the patient and medical providers.

“None of us turn to politicians for advice about breast exams, prenatal care or cancer treatments, so politicians should not be involved in personal medical decisions about pregnancy,” Lockhart said.

Lockhart said the bill would have stigmatized and shamed women for getting an abortion and interfere in the patient-provider relationship.

“We don’t need politicians meddling in the exam room,” Lockhart said. “Patient providers are already having deep conversations about informed consent before providing abortion care.”

The bill existed because of legislators who oppose access to safe, legal abortion but are aware they can’t cut off access to it, Lockhart said. The legislators then find ways to put obstacles to abortion care.

Cathryn Stephenson, who opposed the bill and has received an abortion, said women don’t need moralizing or scolding from politicians.

Women are aware of the stakes and don’t make the decision lightly, she said. If women go through with unwanted pregnancies, it also affects the child as well because they may not be in a home in which they can flourish, Stephenson said.

“I don’t think politicians have the public’s best interest and they certainly don’t have women’s best interests at heart when they decide to interfere and intervene,” Stephenson said.

Stephenson said she had an abortion due to lack of partner support, addiction and financial constraints. She also felt that adoption or foster care would not be a good decision because of its “broken system.”

“If you’re not somebody capable of carrying and conceiving an embryo, I don’t think you should be involved in the decision-making process,” Stephenson said. “The government is willing to make all these mandates and restrictions for people who need access to abortion, but they’re not willing to create a social safety net to help.”

Several other abortion-related bills were introduced this session but did not advance.

Will you help support independent, local journalism?

We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

The Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. In the program, journalism students cover news in Richmond and across Virginia and distribute their stories, photos, and other content to more than 100 newspapers, television and radio stations, and news websites.

Business

Greater Richmond Convention Center marks 20 years serving region

Since 2003, the complex has hosted a total of 7,034 conventions, consumer shows, sports tournaments, and other events, bringing millions of people and dollars to the region.

Published

on

x

Virginia’s largest meeting and exhibition venue celebrates two decades of welcoming events and visitors to the Richmond Region this year. The Greater Richmond Convention Center officially opened on February 28, 2003, as cheerleaders from across the country flipped in the American National Cheer and Dance Championships in the building’s exhibit hall.

Since then, the GRCC has hosted a total of 7,034 conventions, consumer shows, sports tournaments and other events bringing millions of people and dollars to the region.

The GRCC replaced the 62,000-square-foot Richmond Center, which opened in 1986. Stretching across a six-block area, the 700,000 square-foot GRCC incorporates some of the steel and pillars from the original facility.

Construction for the project began in 1999 and was supported by a $10 million investment from former Governor George Allen and the regionwide transient lodging tax.

“It is the best example of regional cooperation in the history of this whole area,” said late Lt. Gov. John H. Hager during a 2002 press conference.

The Greater Richmond Convention Center Authority – a political subdivision of Virginia with representation from the city of Richmond, Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico counties – oversaw the financing, development and construction of the GRCC. The Authority’s 25th anniversary is this year.

We’re immensely proud of the legacy and the positive impact the Greater Richmond Convention Center has had on tourism,” said Lincoln Saunders, City of Richmond Chief Administrative Officer and Chair of the Greater Richmond Convention Center Authority. “Millions of people are introduced to the Richmond Region through events and competitions that are hosted at the facility every year. These visitors support our economy by shopping at our small businesses, eating at restaurants and visiting attractions.”

To examine the viability of the GRCC, regional leaders commissioned a feasibility study by C.H. Johnson Consulting in 1999. The researchers projected hotel tax collections to reach $30 million by fiscal year 2020. Hotel tax collection revenues reached $30 million by fiscal year 2019.

Throughout the GRCC expansion phases, groups were welcomed to the region to use completed portions of the building. About 1,200 women from the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority were the first to use the facility’s new ballroom during a three-day conference in May 2001.

When the GRCC was officially completed in 2003, Richmond Region Tourism had booked 18 conventions through 2008.

Interest and bookings have experienced a dramatic uptick over the years. During its last fiscal year, the GRCC hosted over 180 events.

From USA Fencing tournaments and ice dancing competitions to offshore wind conferences and comic conventions, the GRCC has hosted various large-scale events since it opened.

“The convention center is a shining example of regional collaboration,” said Jack Berry, president and CEO of Richmond Region Tourism. “The success of the convention center demonstrates how investing in tourism results in positive economic development for our entire region. Richmond Region Tourism and its partners are committed to working alongside our community to continue tourism’s positive momentum.”

The GRCC went through extensive upgrades to modernize the facility in 2020.

GRCC’s technological and cosmetic improvements include new LED lighting and RGB color lighting, monitors, digital signage, and a new digital sound system.  Its interior spaces were updated with new tile, accents, paint scheme, and pub-style tables and seating. The facility also features a new executive lounge and a renovated food court and service desk.

Today the GRCC features 178,159 square feet of contiguous exhibit space, a 30,550 square foot grand ballroom, and 50,000 sq. ft. of additional meeting room space.

Will you help support independent, local journalism?

We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

Continue Reading

Downtown

Animal welfare advocates disappointed bill to declaw cats failed

House Bill 1382 would have made the declawing of cats a $500 civil penalty for the first violation, $1,000 for the second violation and $2,500 for the third or any subsequent violation. The bill failed to advance when it was tabled by a 6-4 vote in a House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources subcommittee.

Published

on

x

By Cassandra Loper

A proposal to outlaw the declawing of cats, a procedure that animal rights advocates call cruel and unnecessary, failed to advance from a House subcommittee last month.

House Bill 1382 would have made cat declawing a $500 civil penalty for the first violation, $1,000 for the second violation and $2,500 for the third or any subsequent violation. The bill was tabled by a 6-4 vote in a House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources subcommittee.

The bill is important because cats’ claws are natural and used for stretching, marking territory, balance and more, according to Molly Armus, Virginia state director of the Humane Society of the United States.

Declawing cats is actually an “incredibly painful procedure,” according to Armus.

“I think it’s up to us, as people who are taking these cats into our homes, to learn more humane and less invasive ways to manage scratching,” Armus said.

An onychectomy, or declawing, is a surgery that includes 10 separate amputations, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA. PETA is the largest animal rights organization in the world, according to its website.

Declawing is typically performed for convenience, according to the Animal League Defense Fund. Many people declaw their cats to prevent scratching, its website states.

“Localities around the nation, a couple of states, including our neighbor Maryland, have passed a declawing ban,” said bill sponsor Del. Gwendolyn Gooditis, D-Clarke, in the committee meeting.

New York and Maryland are the only U.S. states that have outlawed declawing. Multiple U.S. cities have passed declawing laws, with the most located in California, according to PETA.

“Declawing cats means, look at your hands, it would be the equivalent of your fingers and your toes being chopped off at the first knuckle,” Gooditis said.

The procedure can cause impaired balance, as much as a person would after losing his or her toes, according to PETA. Declawed cats may have to relearn how to walk.

“It’s a removal of that last bone,” Gooditis said.

Susan Seward, a lobbyist for the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, or VVMA, testified against the bill in the committee meeting. The VVMA strongly opposed the bill, Seward said.

“I think one of the unintended consequences would be setting up a really unpleasant and adversarial relationship between animal control and veterinarians, and that is certainly not a relationship we want to diminish,” Seward said to the committee panel.

Alice Burton, program director for nonprofit animal welfare organization Alley Cat Allies, said the organization was disappointed the bill failed.

Alley Cat Allies mission is to protect and improve the lives of cats. according to its website. The organization operates a trap-neuter-return program to help stabilize the cat population. A cat is transported to a veterinarian, spayed and returned to its original location.

It’s an act of cruelty to declaw cats, according to Burton, who was an animal control officer for 15 years.

“They no longer have their nails as a defense, so their first instinct is to bite,” Burton said. “So all of a sudden they’ve got these bites on their record, which obviously does not bode well for them.”

Declawed cats also struggle to use the litter box because the litter hurts their paws, she said. Many cats who have been declawed will stop using the litter box and soil where they aren’t supposed to, Burton said.

“I would say most of the time these negative effects lead to these cats being surrendered to the shelters or rescue groups,” Burton said. “They would, in most cases, be deemed unadoptable and they would be euthanized.”

There are many other humane options out there, according to Burton.

Humane alternatives to declawing include trimming a cat’s claws regularly, using deterrents such as double-sided tape on furniture, rubber caps for the nails and providing a variety of scratching options, according to Alley Cat Allies.

“We’re not giving up,” Burton said. “We’re going to come back and keep fighting.”

Will you help support independent, local journalism?

We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

Continue Reading

Community

Library of Virginia celebrates Black History Month with Panel Discussion on Black Political Activism After Claiming Freedom

Editors of the Library’s Dictionary of Virginia Biography joined this project in 2011 in collaboration with the commonwealth’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Commission to research and write about the 92 African American men who served in the General Assembly from 1869 to 1890.

Published

on

x

In honor of Black History Month and as part of its 200th anniversary activities, the Library of Virginia will present a panel discussion on Thursday, Feb. 23 to celebrate the completion of a signature project that documents the lives of Virginia’s first Black legislators. Titled “The First Civil Rights: Black Political Activism After Claiming Freedom,” the free panel discussion, offered in partnership with Virginia Humanities, will be held 6-7:30 p.m. in the Library’s Lecture Hall. Advance registration is required at https://lva-virginia.libcal.com/event/10200777.

Editors of the Library’s Dictionary of Virginia Biography joined this project in 2011 in collaboration with the commonwealth’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Commission to research and write about the 92 African American men who served in the General Assembly from 1869 to 1890. Their stories are now available online as part of Virginia’s collective digital story thanks to a collaboration with Encyclopedia Virginia, a rich online resource sponsored by Virginia Humanities.

Black Members of the Virginia General Assembly, 1887-1888.
Front row, left to right: Alfred W. Harris (Dinwiddie), William W. Evans (Petersburg), Caesar Perkins(Buckingham).
Back row, left to right: John H. Robinson (Elizabeth City), Goodman Brown (Surry), Nathaniel M. Griggs (Prince Edward), William H. Ash (Nottoway), Briton Baskerville Jr. (Mecklenburg).

“We’re proud to celebrate such a meaningful project to document early African American representation in our commonwealth’s legislature,” said Librarian of Virginia Sandra G. Treadway. “We encourage the public to join us at what will be a very insightful discussion examining the contributions of early Black legislators and their enduring legacy today.”

Panelists for the program, moderated by Virginia Humanities executive director Matthew Gibson, will include the Honorable Viola Baskerville, one of the founders of the project; Lauranett Lee, public historian and University of Richmond adjunct assistant professor; Ajena Rogers, supervisory park ranger at the National Park Service’s Maggie L. Walker Historic Site and a descendant of Black legislator James A. Fields; and historian and author Brent Tarter, a retired editor with the Library of Virginia.

For more information on the panel discussion, contact Elizabeth Klaczynski at 804.692.3536 or [email protected]. Learn more about the Library’s anniversary events at www.lva.virginia.gov/200.

Will you help support independent, local journalism?

We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

Continue Reading