In Virginia, the power of one woman’s story

In Virginia, the power of one woman's story
In Virginia, the power of one woman's story

@synergy3k sends a story from Virginia, where Republicans now control both chambers of the Legislature and abortion is at the top of the agenda. Yesterday, one woman’s public testimony seems to have turned back a bill that would have taken away abortion rights. Tara Schleifer told a Virginia Senate committee about the agony of deciding to end a pregnancy once tests found severe and ultimately fatal deformities.

“Each family has the right to follow their own conscience in making this most profoundly personal family decision,” Schleifer said. “There is no black and white, right and wrong decision. All of it is awful.”

The committee was locked seven to seven on the bill. An eighth vote belonged to Republican Senator Harry Blevins of Chesapeake. Just the day before, he backed a bill that requires women to undergo a medically unnecessary ultrasound before they can have an abortion (the bill that prompted an amendment requiring cardiac and rectal prostate exams before getting Viagra).

And then Blevins heard Schleifer describe her experience. He decided not to cast a vote at all. His abstention left the vote tied, which meant the bill did not pass. He explained:

“I don’t feel like I have the ability to make a decision as difficult as the one that young woman made.”

And with that, very big government got just a little smaller. I still think one of the hardest things about defending reproductive rights is that it forces people to take public stands on the most private of issues. How brave of anyone to do it, and how powerful even when anonymous.

(Image: @pupski/Flickr)