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Kaine: Bills Turning VA Into 'Laughingstock'

Ultrasounds and Personhood distracting from more important issues like economy, U.S. Senate candidate says.

Former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine (D) says the 2012 General Assembly's attention to divisive social issues is distracting the commonwealth from more important issues such as the economy - and turning Virginia into the butt of many jokes.

Kaine, former Democratic National Committee chair and a candidate for U.S. Senate, in Northern Virginia for an economic roundtable on Wednesday, says citizens are voicing their concerns as the General Assembly prepares to move forward on bills that give full personhood rights from the moment of fertilization and mandate vaginal ultrasounds for women seeking an abortion.

"What I hear from our business leaders and owners is that they are tired of partisan games and distractions causing uncertainty and making it hard to be successful," Kaine told reporters in a conference call.  

"This isn't want people want to see," Kaine said. "What is happening in Richmond is bad for Virginia women, bad for Virginia's image and businesses. We did not earn accolades by embracing measures that have become fodder for late night shows and turned Virginia into a laughingstock."

The bills have been fodder for shows such as SNL and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart in the last few days.

Kaine said he thinks Gov. Bob McDonnell may be listening to the opposition. More than 1,000 people staged a silent protest in at the state capitol in Richmond on Monday. The Virginia House then delayed its vote on HB462 (the ultrasound bill), which could be a sign that McDonnell may be rethinking his stance.

"Virginians have not slept through this," Kaine said. "The legislators did a trick they often do. When there is a big crowd, postpone a day so they can vote after everyone goes home. People went home, but did not stop their letters, emails and calls to make sure legislators are aware how out of step their views are with general public. The General Assembly is now begnning to understand how out of step they are with general public."

Also troubling, Kaine said, is that Personhood legislation, which has not been passed in several other states that have tried, could become a national issue. Among his opponents in the Senate race, Del. Bob Marshall (R-Manassas), the sponsor of HB1, Virginia's Personhood bill, and former senator and governor George Allen (R), whom Kaine says advocated for federal Personhood rights in a Dec. 7 debate with Kaine. To see that discussion, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTkfRV9bc2U

Allen spokeswoman Katie Wright told reporters that Kaine is looking to “change the subject” from the economy to social issues.

“It’s ironic that Chairman Kaine professes to want to talk about jobs when he’s on a conference call that his own campaign organized discussing issues that are moving through the General Assembly,” Wright said in a email. “He and his allies seem intent on making this race about anything other than solutions to create jobs, addressing our country’s energy issues including surging gas prices and reining in the wasteful excesses of Washington that have made trillion-dollar deficits the norm.”

Kaine says the issues in Virginia are part of a national trend.

"It is clearly part of broader trend when see Personhood popping up in a number of states and members of congress fighting the contraceptive mandate. Personhood could well jeopardize womens' access to FDA-approved birth control," Kaine said, pointing out that the birth control argument has been a surprising - and divisive - issue in the 2012 Presidential race.

 "[Mandating] ultrasounds is government over-reach at its worst," he said.   "Equally shocking is the attitude it sends 'we know better than you do that we know what is better for you.' It is outrageous. Patients, not politicians, should decide what medical procedures they need."

Meanwhile, Marshall told NBC12 in Richmond, that HB1 has been misunderstood.

 "It doesn't abolish abortion," he said. "It doesn't get rid of birth control. It doesn't affect in vitro. The major effect on this is to say that before birth, there's a human being there, and there's a case for a wrongful death."

Karen Goff March 01, 2012 at 04:25 PM
That's the whole point - to be relevant at the local level. If I may boast for a minute, Reston Patch has proven in 18 months of existence that, for local residents, this is the place to get real-time news - and some of that local information is very valuable to them. So I am not clear on what exactly your criticism is supposed to mean. If you follow the media industry at all, you should know that it is really hard for those "very small, independent individual publications and outlets" to stay in business these days. Heck, it is hard for big publications to make money these days. This is my fulltime job - I am glad someone is paying me to do it.
Karen Goff March 01, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Let's take this conversation back to the point of the Virginia General Assembly and away from my thin skin, veiled criticism and propensity towards shock jockiness, OK? Don't like what goes on here, you are welcome to get your news and ads wherever you want. How I do my job is not the point.
Kate Peterson March 01, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Personally I think that the Patch model is part of the solution, especially the Reston Patch which has done an outstanding job of following all of the issues related to Women's Health. We wouldn't have known about them until they were much further along were it not brought to light here. I think the comments also helped make the issues more viable to SNL and the Daily Show--comments drive SEO on topics. I'm sure both shows track trending issues via all social media & web based news outlets. So I say--Great coverage Reston Patch and good job Ms. Goff!
Chris March 02, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Patch was not the only source to report this story. It was all over the internet and in the Washington Post the next day. It looks like some of the comments got deleted.
John j. March 02, 2012 at 04:21 AM
Agree on the idea of keeping personal choice and freedom and not having a government dictate, but be consistent, don't dictate via implementation of Obama care that we all have to pay for other people's choices such as abortion and contraception. Personal choice, personal problem, personal bill to pay!

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