RESOLVE just published their fall newsletter and you might see a familiar face in it. When they asked me to write an article about fighting the personhood legislation in Virginia, I was happy to do so.
Here’s my article:
Last winter, a personhood bill threatened to make IVF illegal in the state of Virginia. I was thrust into a roiling battle on our capital’s grounds without much notice. RESOLVE reached out to me and asked me if I would come and speak at a press conference at the General Assembly. Press conference? I must admit, I was intimidated, but I couldn’t imagine saying no. Not doing anything to help was definitely scarier than agreeing to speak.
So, I off I went to Richmond. I was so impressed with RESOLVE and their staff, as this was my first time meeting them face to face. They set up their banners, greeted senators, furiously typed away on their smartphones, made notes and prepared to speak. I could tell that these were people who had real passion for what they were doing, and not merely performing tasks. Meanwhile, reporters were setting up their cameras and I felt like I was going to be sick.
I had stayed up late the night before writing my remarks, but I was still nervous. I stood up at the podium with my heart racing and I started speaking, trying not to look at the cameras. It wasn’t long before my voice cracked. Uh-oh. I kept going and eventually ended up in tears. But…I did it!
We didn’t know if the media would actually cover it, but on my way home, I got a very excited phone call from Rebecca with RESOLVE, saying that we had already appeared in an online article and I was quoted. I was shocked. By the end of the day, our story had been featured in the evening news by all three local outlets, on three radio stations and featured in at least six other news outlets, including The Washington Times and The Huffington Post. Wow! And, my face and my words were featured in a lot of the coverage. It was weird for me, but in a good, slightly proud, kind of embarrassed way.
While the coverage was fantastic, the issue still lingered and rested in the state legislature’s hands. One week later, the bill had moved to the senate subcommittee and I went back to Richmond with RESOLVE to fight it.
The atmosphere in the General Assembly was quite crazy, with many protesters filling the halls. Not only was the personhood bill to be discussed, but also the controversial ultrasound bill (HB462). I learned that each side, pro and con, had about 8 minutes to speak total, but there were a lot of people there. RESOLVE had somehow been able to convince the other groups represented (Planned Parenthood, ACLU, etc.) into letting us go first.
We were lined up on the aisles jockeying for position. I was scared, of course, but at the same time, I was mad about this bill and I wanted to speak to those Senators. I wanted them to look me in the eye and see that I was a real person struggling, who would be negatively affected by the passing of such a bill. I got through my remarks this time around feeling a little stronger, but with a few tears still.
Unfortunately, the bill passed. No! I felt deflated. Now, the bill would move on to the Senate floor. We left the building and things had gotten even crazier with massive demonstrations and picketing going on outside the Capitol. On our way home, I got the most amazing phone call — the Senate killed the bill in a special vote on the Senate floor.
It was such a victorious feeling and a huge relief.
Did we make an impact? You bet we did! Our efforts were even applauded in the The New York Times the next day. Are you kidding me? How cool is that?
I was proud of myself for helping, but I knew I couldn’t have done it without the support and guidance from RESOLVE.
We succeeded in that moment in time, but we still have so much to fight for.
Links to more posts on this subject:
Infertility Fights Back
Reason Prevails: Personhood bill defeated in Virginia