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State-mandated pregnancy pamphlet in Va. wedding packets boggles newlyweds

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CHESTERFIELD, Va. – The innocuous brochure was slipped into a marriage license packet, gifted by the Chesterfield Circuit Court to the newly wedded couple.

“You may not be ready to have a baby, but your body’s been preparing for years,” reads the pamphlet, which delves into pregnancy, birth defects and the importance of folic acid in prenatal vitamins.

But clients of Virginia wedding officiant Kimberly Kelly questioned why the courts have been tasked with distributing health information.

Kelly owns Dream A Little Dream Weddings and said a client was stunned when she recently received a brochure on pregnancy, birth defects and folic acid in her marriage license packet from Chesterfield Circuit Court.

“I think about same sex couples and I just don’t think it's appropriate,” Kelly said. “I know elderly couples that get married; even people who have cancer or some type of genetic disorder get married --but what if they can’t have a child?!”


She said that in the nearly eight years that she has been officiating for Dream A Little Dream Weddings she has never run into the brochure.

But the Chesterfield Circuit Court told Kelly that the brochures are a state mandate.

“Chesterfield County makes the publication about the role of folic acid in preventing birth defects available to marriage license applicants as required by the Code of Virginia,” Chesterfield Circuit Clerk Wendy Hughes said. “The county takes an extra step to include that publication in a packet of other information shared with all marriage license applicants.”

It was pointed out that the General Assembly first created and instituted the statute in 1999.

“These packets are made ahead of time and distributed as a courtesy to all applicants, to ensure everyone has access to the information,” Hughes said. “Other information in the packet includes a ceremonial wedding certificate and information about the marriage process to ensure it takes place in accordance with state requirements.”

A CBS 6 reporter looked up the Virginia statute and it directs every Circuit Court clerk to make the information available to all marriage license applicants.

Of the 10 different clerk's offices contacted by CBS 6, five said they had no mandate to put the brochures in with the marriage license information.

In the city of Richmond, officials simply put the brochures in a basket that’s on a counter. Anyone who wants the information is free to take it.

Henrico, Dinwiddie, Fluvanna, Amelia and Powhatan said they don’t give out the brochures. Some of them said they don’t even have the literature.

The Petersburg’s Circuit Court office said they selectively hand out the pamphelt because they know the information may not apply to everyone.

Goochland, Chesterfield and Hanover give them to every single couple.

“Not that I don’t think it’s a good program,” Kelly said. “I just think it's misplaced.”

Kelly said she would like to see the offices stop that practice of handing out those brochures, although the law is clearly spelled out.

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