This year’s Virginia General Assembly elections are, of course, crucial for the future of Virginia in many ways, including protecting the right to vote and making sure that Republicans don’t roll back the progress we’ve made in a whole host of areas – clean energy, environmental protection, voting rights, civil rights, civil liberties, and of course women’s reproductive freedom. Currently, Democrats maintain a narrow, 22-18 majority in the State Senate – a “blue wall” against Republican extremism in 2022 and 2023, and hopefully for years to come! – while Republicans hold a narrow, 52-48 majority in the House of Delegates (after Democrats held a 55-45 majority in 2020-2021). This election, for a whole host of reasons (some of which are noted above), it’s absolutely essential that we hold that Senate majority and, if at all possible, take back the House of Delegates.
With regard to control of the House of Delegates, there are several key races that Democrats MUST WIN if we’re going to accomplish the goal of replacing right-wing-Republican Speaker Todd Gilbert with VA House Democratic Leader Don Scott. One of those key races is, without question, in HD97 (Virginia Beach), where superb Democratic nominee Michael Feggans faces right-wing Republican incumbent Del. Karen Greenhalgh. Note that this district is most definitely winnable for Democrats, given that Hillary Clinton won it in 2016, Ralph Northam won it by 9+ points in 2017, Tim Kaine won it by 16+ points in 2018, Joe Biden won it by ~12.5 points in 2020, and Elaine Luria won it by 5+ points in 2022, with Glenn Youngkin narrowly defeating Terry McAuliffe in 2021 by 2.2 points. So, bottom line, this district CAN be won by Democrats and MUST be won by Democrats if we want to take back the House of Delegates, which we definitely do!
For more information on Democrat Michael Feggans, see Cindy Cunningham’s interview with him here and watch him talk last Friday about his campaign. In short, the guy’s super-impressive and would represent a MASSIVE upgrade from incumbent Republican Del. Karen Greenhalgh in pretty much every way. For instance, let’s take a quick look at Greenhalgh’s abysmal record when it comes to women’s reproductive freedom/health.
First off, it’s important to note that Greenhalgh was, from 2012 through 2017, “Regional Office Manager for the Keim Center [in Virginia Beach], a resource center providing medical services and other assistance for people in crisis situations.” The problem is that – as the New River Abortion Access Fund explains – these are “fake clinics,” in that they “do not offer abortion services.” Also, as this article explains, the goal of the Keim Center and other such “crisis pregnancy centers” is to “deter women who want abortions from obtaining them.” The article describes what happened to a woman named Estefanía when she went there, seeking an abortion:
“A woman who wasn’t a medical professional then entered the room and began asking Estefanía personal questions about her relationship, like whether or not she planned to marry her boyfriend. She then advised Estefanía to make a pros and cons list about having an abortion.
Any time the 26-year-old told the employee her reasoning for not wanting a child, she was met with pushback. Those counter arguments became stronger when Estefanía’s boyfriend entered the room.”
So yeah, that’s where Greenhalgh worked for five years. Unfortunately, “fake clinics” like this one are common in the U.S.; as this article explains, in fact:
There are more than three CPCs for every abortion clinic in the US. Many of them are supported by national anti-abortion organizations, like CareNet and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, that provide CPCs with everything from client materials to legal advice.
Anti-abortion activist Robert Pearson is credited as the reason why CPCs are so widespread. Pearson opened one of the first CPCs in the 1980s and wrote a manual on how pro-life groups could start their own centers.
Yuck. Yet that’s exactly where Republican Karen Greenhalgh’s coming from on women’s reproductive freedom (or in Greenhalgh’s case, lack thereof!), and one of many reasons why she should be replaced in the House of Delegates by Democrat Michael Feggans this November 7th.
By the way, in the 2022 legislative session, Greenhalgh introduced HB 212, which mirrored similar practices as the crisis pregnancy center where she formerly worked as a clinic manager. The legislation would require physicians to receive informed written consent prior to providing abortion services, which included requiring the patient to know the gestational age of the fetus. Even fellow anti-abortion Republican, State Senator Siobhan Dunnavant, would not support the bill, saying it would be a “slippery slope.” After Greenhalgh’s bill was, thankfully, killed in Senate committee (there’s that “blue wall” again!), Greenhalgh didn’t give up, pursuing this misguided legislation again in 2023, via HB 2270, and even introducing a budget amendment to fund the bill.
Fortunately, the Senate Democratic “blue wall” yet again deep-sixed Greenhalgh’s really bad bill…for another session. And that will undoubtedly happen again and again, session after session, as long as Democrats are in charge of the State Senate (and preferably the House of Delegates, where they could also kill threats to Virginia women’s health and bodily autonomy). But the Senate Democratic “blue wall” most certainly will NOT be able to keep killing terrible bills like Greenhalgh’s if Democrats stay home this election and, god forbid, Republicans win a governing “trifecta” (the governorship, State Senate and House of Delegates). So if you haven’t voted yet – Democratic, of course, up and down your ballot – make sure you do so, and remind everyone you know to do the same!