Local Commentary

From the Front Row: Delegate Kaye Kory’s Richmond Report

Women’s reproductive rights has been a controversial subject for my entire life, not to mention a volatile issue for elected officials striving to make wise, balanced public policy decisions. I grew up hearing the phrase “Our Bodies, Ourselves”.

(It is ironic that folks who refuse to become vaccinated have taken up this chant in defense of the decision to remain unvaccinated.)

This controversy has never ceased, simply becoming less prominent at some times than at others. A woman’s right to control her healthcare choices, to control and protect her own body, should not need to be enshrined in law.

We all know, but it is not often mentioned in our public dialogue, that women’s reproductive rights are actually women’s civil rights. Our country prides itself publicly that equality of civil rights is our fundamental philosophy. However, this equality is not actually the experience of many American women when we must make healthcare decisions.

Many men — politicians, religious leaders — try to take away that personal power of choice and often succeed legislatively. Roe v Wade has been our backstop until the Texas legislature passed SB 8. SB8 charts a path to criminalize abortion that seems to bypass the Supreme Court’s Roe v Wade precedent. This path remains unchallenged by SCOTUS, which is a travesty in and of itself.

SB8 raises issues other than women’s civil rights; issues like legalizing vigilante law enforcement. “Sue thy neighbor” is a very frightening legal development, especially on the heels of the vigilante-style attempted takeover of Congress.

This violent approach to the enforcement of a law that strips women of their basic civil rights is a shocking justification and encouragement of a most heinous expression of chauvinism. We have been working hard as a nation to route out the race-based legal oppression of nearly half our total population, yet Texas and SCOTUS seem determined to devise a new gender-based legal oppression of nearly half of American citizenry.

To quote Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, (reveal: PPAV has endorsed my candidacy for re-election), “This Texas law sets a dangerous legal precedent and could clear a path for states to override people’s Constitutional rights.”

Every person should have the freedom and power to make their own decisions about their health and their bodies — including the decision to terminate a pregnancy. No one’s most personal and private medical decisions should be made by politicians or their neighbors.

SB8 is not only an anti-abortion law; it is a take-the-law-into-your-own-hands law; an anti-law law. We must all fight to prevent this chaotic vision of law enforcement from spreading — and to push Texas to repeal.

Delegate Kory represents the 38th District in the Virginia House of Delegates. She may be emailed at DelKKory@house.virginia.gov.