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Thousands of women sign petition opposing ‘personhood’ bill

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HENRICO, Va. (WTVR) – Since the Virginia House of Delegates vote to approve the “personhood bill” on Tuesday, thousands of women opposing it have come forward to sign petitions calling for its repeal.

House Bill 1 defines life as beginning at conception, and supporters say it would allow a parent to sue someone who causes the death of an unborn child. But opponents say the “personhood” bill, should it become law, is a way to outlaw abortions in Virginia should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe versus Wade.

One petition, hosted on signon.org, asks lawmakers to “end the war on women,” citing not just the “personhood” Bill, but House Bill 462. That bill mandates women be subjected to ultrasounds before receiving abortions. It was passed by both the House of Delegates and the Senate, and will become law after being signed by Governor Bob McDonnell.

The petition, addressed to Governor McDonnell, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and the Virginia Senate, asks lawmakers to stop drafting bills petitioners say would limit women’s access to reproductive health care, and focus on job creation and education. It has more than 11,000 signatures.

For one Henrico mother, signing a petition isn’t enough. She’s telling her two daughters attending college out of state not return to Virginia after graduation.

Judi Crenshaw says her daughters Gray, 21, and Emlyn, 19, will most likely start their careers out of the Commonwealth, partly because of opportunity, and partly because of what’s happening in the General Assembly.

“Why would you want to make a contribution? Why would you want to build your life here?” Crenshaw said. “When this is the discussion that they’re having, when it’s not a place that treats women equally.”

Delegate Bob Marshall says he stands by the legislation he drafted. Saying the bill simply defined life as starting at conception.

“I’ve got to deal with all these side shows with these people, who just never want to get to the plain fact that there’s a very simple thing i want to do:to recognize the unborn as being a human being before the law. That’s all,” Marshall says.

Crenshaw disagrees, calling the bill a starting point for clamping down on women’s reproductive rights like abortion services and some forms of contraception.

This is something Marshall adamantly denies.

“It doesn’t criminalize abortion, it doesn’t affect birth control, and they can’t point to one case where it’s ever been done that way,” he said.

After passing in the House of Delegates on Valentine’s Day, the “personhood” bill is now headed to a Senate committee, where support for the bill isn’t clear.