RICHMOND – When Majorie was 8 years old in the early 1930s, she came home from school in the Texas community she grew up in to find her mother and a friend talking about a neighbor woman who had just died, leaving four children behind.
"This woman had tried to abort a pregnancy. She had used, apparently, a coat hanger, and she bled to death. It really makes me sad to talk about it, even now." Marjorie said, choking up. "I was terribly, terribly upset about it."
The 87-year-old grandmother from
That's why Marjorie is so concerned about bills coming out of the General Assembly, such as the "personhood" bill that would define life as beginning at the moment of conception, the bill requiring women to undergo an ultrasound before receiving an
She said her neighbor was "dirt poor" with an alcoholic husband, and believes the woman had the illegal, fatal abortion out of desperation.
"I'm sure she was just overcome with her problems with her husband and trying to raise those four children," Marjorie said. "And she really knew that if she had a new baby, she was smart enough to know that she couldn't handle it."
Marjorie has considered herself a Democrat since she was 9 or 10, when she heard
And while Democrats have cried foul over what they see as the
Betty Gibbs, 58 of Poquoson, describes herself as a member of the
She said she recently attended a Tea Party meeting where the discussion was over whom to support for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by
Gibbs said she thought, "Wow, I guess I'll have to vote for (former Gov. Tim) Kaine." Kaine is running for the Democratic nomination.
"At least he understands these issues," Gibbs said.
One of the biggest concerns for Gibbs is the repeal of the
A nurse, Gibbs said she has seen a number of young women who have contracted the HPV
"They're going to have sex — I've counseled young girls and they're going to have sex," Gibbs said. "And this HPV is going to kill them."
Gibbs said she joined the Tea Party because she feels a number of citizens' rights are being threatened and she considers reproductive rights to be part of those.
HPV is different
Local Tea Party activist Tricia Stall, who lost a 2007 bid for the state Senate to
"We must leave the child care — medical care included — to the parents and the physicians they employ to manage their child's health," Stall said.
For Stall, who also worked as a nurse, what makes the HPV vaccine different from other mandatory vaccines for school-age children such as
Stall also supports the "personhood" and fetal ultrasound measures. She said it comes down to whether one has a "biblical world view," as she does, or a secular world view.
"I support life and the Constitution guarantees it," Stall said. "The Constitution guarantees life. If we're going to discount that part of the Constitution, what other parts of the Constitution are we willing to sacrifice?"
Stall's support of these measures seems to be the majority view of women in the commonwealth.
A Mason-Dixon Polling and Research poll conducted in January found that 57 percent of women statewide support requiring women to have an ultrasound 24 hours before they receive an abortion, while only 25 percent oppose the idea.
A poll released Feb. 9 by
Heritage High School teacher Ayvonne Reese said she supports these measures, particularly "personhood," because she believes in the sanctity of life at any age. She said the polls on fetal ultrasounds show that a significant amount of the commonwealth's women agree with her.
"If you listen to some, you would think that the tidal wave is pro-choice," Reese said. "But there are a lot of people out there who don't know they can speak up, or who haven't spoken up. It's about time we made our voices heard."