Political Notebook: Shackling Pregnant Women
Bits and bites from Virginia and national politics.
Restraining pregnant inmates: A House subcommittee this week tabled a bill introduced by Del. Patrick Hope, D-Arlington, that would have prevented the state prison officials from using shackles on pregnant inmates. Supporters of Hope's bill called the practice "barbaric" and likened it to "torture," according to the Associated Press. Arlington County Sheriff Beth Arthur said state regulations, not legislation, should be used to address the matter, the AP reports.
Senate passes 'conscience clause': Democrats offered 18 amendments this week hoping to weaken or stop Republican-sponsored legislation that allows child placement agencies under contract with the state to discriminate based on their moral or religious beliefs. They failed, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Sen. Barbara Favloa, D-Arlington, tried to exempt children in foster care from the bill.
“When a private organization, even a private religiously-affiliated organization, performs a quintessentially governmental function, including placing children with foster parents, it should do so in a non-discriminatory fashion. Having chosen to act in the state’s capacity, these agencies must be held to the same standard as if the state had itself performed the activities,” Favola stated in a news release.
“This amendment would maintain a distance between Church and State relationships and always put the child first. Discrimination limits the pool of foster parents available to these vulnerable children who are in desperate need of homes. Allowing agencies to discriminate may result in a child losing a placement with the most suitable family.”
Republicans on 'values crusade?': Speaking of Favola, she said this week at a news conference with Northern Virginia legislators that Republicans were on a "values crusade." Republicans counter that only a small percent of their bills involve social issues, according to the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg. Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw told the paper that it was now easier to buy a gun than to vote in Virginia. Saslaw predicted there's not enough votes in the Senate to pass a budget at this point, according to multiple news outlets.