Press Club

Peter’s Take: Republicans Step Up War on Virginia’s Women

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Peter Rousselot

Virginia’s Republican Leaders are continuing their multi-year crusade to stifle the hard-won rights of Virginia’s women.

In my March 19 column, I highlighted the systematic efforts by this year’s Republican gubernatorial candidate, Ken Cuccinelli, to drive Virginia women’s rights back to the 1950’s.

But Cuccinelli is far from alone. The current Republican Governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell—who is eyeing a race for President in 2016–doesn’t want to let Cuccinelli overshadow McDonnell’s own efforts to restrict women’s rights. Last week, McDonnell exercised his gubernatorial authority to modify legislation passed by the Virginia legislature earlier this year.

McDonnell added an amendment to Virginia health care reform legislation that interferes in women’s private medical decisions by prohibiting insurance companies from offering policies that cover safe and legal abortion as a part of Virginia’s health exchange. This is part of McDonnell’s effort to curry favor with the far right wing of his party. McDonnell does not want to be outflanked by Cuccinelli in Republican right wing circles just as jockeying among the 2016 Republican Presidential contenders begins to ramp up.

From 2011’s invasive ultrasound requirements (which made Virginia a laughingstock on late night comedy shows) to burdensome and medically unnecessary health clinic regulations, Virginia’s Republican politicians continue to generate outrage with their attacks on women’s health.

Important and private medical decisions should be made by a woman and her doctor, not by politicians. Caring for pregnant women means making sure they have all the options they need for all medical possibilities during pregnancy – whether carrying a pregnancy to term or making the decision with their doctor to end a pregnancy.

The federal constitutional right to an abortion is an integral part of basic health care for women, and must be part of comprehensive insurance plans in Virginia. McDonnell’s amendment sets yet another dangerous precedent of political interference into health care decisions by eliminating coverage for care to which he is ideologically opposed—but about which he lacks the medical training to evaluate.

McDonnell and Cuccinelli need to find other ways to cozy up to the far right wing of the Republican Party.

Peter Rousselot is a member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

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