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Here's a multiple choice question for you...Which of the following is the best source of information on reproductive medical terminology?

A. Dictionary.com
B. The National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine) Medical Encyclopedia
C. The Association of Reproductive Health Professionals
D. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Virginia State Senator Jeannemarie Devolites-Davis (R-Fairfax, wife of Republican Congressman Tom Davis) picked A, Dictionary.com.  Rather than trusting in medically accepted definitions for medical terminology, Devolites-Davis used Dictionary.com as her source of a definition of "contraception" during floor debate this week in an effort to stop Senator Mary Margaret Whipple's (D-Arlington) Birth Control Protection Act (SB456) from passing the Senate as written.

Update [2005-1-24 17:35:50 by Maura in VA]:: The counterproductive and anti-science Devolites-Davis amendment passed in the Virginia Senate this afternoon. Senator Mary Margaret Whipple will move to withdraw the bill tomorrow rather than allow it to pass as amended.

By her careful and partial selection from among several definitions of contraception from Dictionary.com, Senator Devolites-Davis blurs the line between abortion and contraception. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Senator Devolites-Davis said, "Knowing that this body does not have this great acumen in defining words, it seems logical we should use definitions used over and over."

Most English language dictionaries list a series of definitions for any word. They chronicle how a word is used in common speech. These language reference texts are neither definitive sources for medical terminology nor are they accurate sources for legal terms.

Scientific and medical authorities including the NIH, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals define the beginning of pregnancy as the implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus, and "contraception" is anything that prevents pregnancy by preventing ovulation, preventing fertilization (joining of egg and sperm) or preventing implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus.

Senator Whipple's bill simply makes clear that methods of contraception that prevent ovulation, prevent fertilization, or prevent implantation are not abortion, since abortion ends a pregnancy, and no pregnancy exists if implantation has not occurred

But Senator Devolites-Davis ignored the definitions of contraception used by medical science, turned to Dictionary.com as her source of definitions of medical terminology, and has now introduced an amendment to Whipple's bill that removes Whipple's medical terminology, specifically the wording that refers to implantation. 

By using imprecise and non-medical terminology, the Devolites-Davis amendment drastically narrows the definition of contraception and, in doing so, will restrict women's access to contraception if it passes the Senate.

Whipple's bill reads:

"contraception" means the use of any process, device, or method to prevent pregnancy, including steroidal, chemical, physical or barrier, natural or permanent methods for preventing the union of an ovum with the spermatozoon or the subsequent implantation of the fertilized ovum in the uterus.

The Devolites-Davis amendment would strike Whipple's medical terminology and replace it with much more imprecise terms:

"contraception" means intentional prevention of conception or impregnation through the use of various devices, agents, drugs, sexual practices or surgical procedures.

By avoiding a medical definition of how contraception prevents pregnancy, the Devolites-Davis amendment essentially makes the HB456 useless as a way to protect access to oral contraceptives and emergency contraception in Virginia.

SB456, as originally drafted, is important because there are many legislators in Richmond who are working to restrict access to contraceptives for Virginia women or blur the line between contraception and abortion in an effort to restrict both.  Dick Black from Loudoun County calls contraceptives "baby pesticides" .  Mark Cole wants to give fertilized eggs constitutional rights.  Robert Marshall has introduced a bill this year that would make it a felony to give birth control to a teen involved in statutory rape and has fought to prohibit Virginia colleges from distributing emergency contraception to students.

But the vast majority of Virginians, Republican and Democratic, pro-choice and pro-life, support access to contraceptives.

The vast majority of Virginians don't consider the oral contraceptive pill to be a "baby pesticide", and and most Virginians know that the best way to reduce abortions is not to ban them, but to reduce unplanned pregnancy through use of contraceptives.   The vast majority of Virginians support access to all safe methods of contraception.  We just need to respectfully let all Senators know we want them to stand with the vast majority of Virginians, and that we'll be watching closely to see how they vote today.

If you believe Virginia women should have access to all safe methods of contraception, three actions are needed TODAY:

1. Call and email your senator to respectfully urge him/her to reject the Devolites-Davis amendment to SB456 today.

2. Call and email to respectfully urge your senator to vote in favor of SB456 today.  If they're already signed on as a patron, thank them.

3. Spread the word.   Send an email to your friends, link to your blog or discussion board, etc.

Voting on this bill takes place in the Senate on today.  ACT NOW to make sure your Senators know your opinions on the bill. 

If you write or call Senate offices, please be polite and respectful in registering your views on the bill.  This will be a very close vote, and the bill needs bipartisan support.  The last thing we want is for some Senators who may be on the fence to feel attacked.

Originally posted to Maura in VA on Sun Jan 23, 2005 at 10:43 PM PST.

Poll

What's your contraceptive of choice?

4%6 votes
26%39 votes
13%20 votes
0%1 votes
15%23 votes
0%1 votes
2%3 votes
1%2 votes
8%12 votes
3%5 votes
22%33 votes
2%3 votes

| 148 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Cross-posting fun (3.95)
    This VA Legislative Sentry alert is cross-posted to Democracy for Virginia.

    If you're a progressive Virginian and you'd like to join other citizen sentries in monitoring Virginia legislation, join the Democracy for Virginia Legislative Sentry email group today!  The last bills for this session were filed on Friday, and we've got a lot of work to do to get the word out about legislation that ordinary Virginians should be aware of before the General Assembly acts on it.

  •  creepy, sneaky, and stupid. (none)
    motherfuckers.

    i know that there are GOPers in MI who are watching this closely, seeing what they can harvest out of here to interject into their own bilious little bills.

  •  They don't care (none)
    once the half-baby sperm and half-baby egg get it on and join up, they think its a walking, talking person just like you and me from that point on.  

    Definitions mean nothing to them.

    Phil Bredesen for President 2008

    by FleetAdmiralJ on Mon Jan 24, 2005 at 12:08:45 AM PST

    •  But regular Virginians do (none)
      They might not care about definitions, but I don't believe that ordinary Virginians believe that a four-celled organism should have the right to assembly, the right to free speech, the right to bear arms, etc.

      (Though there's a hilarious take on that in response to my public awareness campaign about HB1677 here.  Talks about the right to bear arms for "Fetus-Americans.")

      I believe ordinary Virginians would support Whipple's bill.  But most Virginians have no idea that this kind of ridiculousness is happening in the General Assembly, which is why I'm trying to get the word out.

      •  But to most pro-lifers (none)
        they do think that a four-celled embryo should have due process.  Thats what i found so absurd about their whole arguement, both rationally and philisophically.

        Now, whether most Virginians are that strict pro-lifers i guess is up to debate, but most of the ones who live just across the border from where I am probably are.

        Phil Bredesen for President 2008

        by FleetAdmiralJ on Mon Jan 24, 2005 at 12:47:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Oh No They Don't (none)
      If it was like you and me they could shoot it and sue the parents for the damage it did to their bullet.

      The pre-born have mega priority over the postborn, which people used to learn the hard way when pregnant women were injured.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Mon Jan 24, 2005 at 09:16:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Atrios said it months ago (none)
    It's not about abortion, it's about sex. The wingers are really after Griswold vs. Connecticut.
    •  Discussed in Detail Here (4.00)
      in an earlier diary suggesting Abortion- Less Talk, More Action

      In particular, the suggestion that, during confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court, Democrats ask  'do you support overturning decisions that made it legal for a woman to take the birth control pill?' instead of 'do you believe in a woman's right to choose?'   The former will get some people's attention.

      The limitation of governmental power means the enslavement of the people by the great corporations.- Theodore Roosevelt

      by dhonig on Mon Jan 24, 2005 at 05:14:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yep (none)
      I live in a RED state(it's scary I tell ya) and these people are so uptight about sex in general. If they cared about abortion really, they would question why the rate of abortions rose under dubya's first term.
  •  Contacted Sen. Ticer (none)
    She's a patron, so I just thanked her from her support and told her to do what she could to have the amendment stricken down.  Has it already come up in the House?  If not, when is it supposed to come up for a vote there?

    We fight on. We fight for ourselves and the people who do not have a voice.

    by mlk on Mon Jan 24, 2005 at 06:43:03 AM PST

  •  Thanks Maura (none)
    I appreciate your posting this information. I contacted Potts (for whatever good it may do), and was so courteous my nose feels brown.

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Mon Jan 24, 2005 at 07:14:20 AM PST

  •  Maura, you left the best contraceptive (none)
    known to humans off your poll: NEWBORNS

    Trust me, I have a 12 w/o and nothing does the trick better.

    •  Just wait til the child is two (none)
      And having one of those "NO" days.

      You'll start researching boarding schools.

      (and thank you for the diary, Maura - Sen. Whipple represents my district - I'm very proud of her)

  •  cant vote in your poll (none)
    sheesh, you forget about us evil gays, we have sex for pleasure not for procreation.  

    oh and this diary is recommended

    disclaimer: i really am from mars

    by juls on Mon Jan 24, 2005 at 08:24:30 AM PST

    •  Can't vote? Reframe! (4.00)
      On behalf of the Virginia Senate Definitions Committee, I hereby categorize gay sex as "abstinence," with respect to questions regarding contraception.

      Congratulations! You're now born again and eligible to attend the next George W. Bush rally of your choice!

    •  Well, sometimes (none)
      we gays have sex so we can get our partners to do their share of the dishes, but your point about birth control certainly stands. ;)

      On a more serious note, though, I'm happy to see so many of us GLBTQs recognizing lately that we have a stake in this particular battle. In the grand scheme of things, the movements for equal rights for gays and contraceptive freedom share common goals. The rights to privacy, autonomy w/r/t sex & sexuality, and bodily integrity are fundamental in a free society.

      •  Back atcha (none)
        The rights to privacy, autonomy w/r/t sex & sexuality, and bodily integrity are fundamental in a free society.

        Exactly, which is why I am very fired up about fighting for equal rights for gays in Virginia as well, even though I'm not gay.  Not that there's anything wrote with that.  ;-)

        Hatred against gays in the Virginia legislature has really gotten out of control this year -- after the right wing "success" last year with the "Marriage Affirmation Act" (aided and abetted by a disgusting number of Democrats, including Chap Petersen, who's typically considered the frontrunner for the Democratic Lt. Gov. nomination), the right-wingers have now engaged in a pile-on orgy of gay-hating bills.  There are no less than FIVE bills supporting a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.  On top of those are piled the hateful bill to prohibit Gay/Straight Alliances in Virginia public schools and a bill to bar gay couples from adopting children, introduced by the Dynamic Duo of Discrimination, Dick Black and Robert Marshall.

        I'm just as fired up about raising awareness about these hateful bills (the last two were just introduced on Friday) as I am about raising awareness about bills that encroach on my reproductive freedom.  

        •  I've been eyeing VA closely since last summer (none)
          So I'm familiar with what you're talking about, Maura. Even though I'm out here in the southwest, it's frightening as all hell. I have great appreciation for the work you do on all of these issues.

          I'm entirely convinced that these people who spend so much energy trying to control the sexuality of others are deeply troubled psychologically. I suspect they're desperately trying to control unseemly (and possibly illegal) urges of their own. How can we start a whisper campaign about this? We should never underestimate the power of it becoming "common knowledge" that anyone who proposes/supports these kinds of bills is really just faking righteousness to cover up some truly sick perversion on their own part.

  •  Here we go again... (none)
    Maura, once again you should be thanked for bringing this new piece of political nonsense to our collective attention.

    This whole definition debacle is yet another example of why lay people should not be in the business of legislating medical issues.  People like Ms. Davis can't or won't grasp the nuances of this issue because they refuse to understand that this isn't about their own personal biases, it's about defining the terms of this bill with scientific precision so that there can be no doubt as to what does or does not fall withing its purview.  I can certainly understand why a legislator would want the law of the land to be in terms that are generally understandable to the majority of the population.  But when the issue is so deeply complicated as this one is it's not going to be possible to draft the bill in terms that the average citizen thinks he can understand.

    All I can say about the weirdos who insist that fertilized eggs have civil rights too, is give me a big fat break.  These people seem distrurbingly intent on interfering in decisions that women should be making in consultation with our physicians, not with ignorant people like them.  I hope that you are correct that most Virginians are not cut from the same cloth as the rabid anti-abortion contingent to which Mr. Black and Mr. Cole apparently belong.  I just don't get why these fools care so passionately about this nonsense escapes me when there are far more pressing issues that urgently need to be addressed in Virginia and elsewhere.

    Please let us know what the outcome of this bill is after the voting is done.  

  •  Dick Black rocks! (none)
    Yeah, that's my Delegate. Dick Black. State Sen. Bill Mims, Congressman Frank Wolf, Senators John Warner and George Allen, and President George W. Bush.

    Sometimes, I can't believe I get out of bed in the morning.

    •  Dear Lord (none)
      You are truly under siege as a Democrat.  My goodness.  (At least you can put Mark Warner on that list though, right?)

      Do you think that most of your neighbors are aware that Dick Black is so certifiable?  I get the sense that most people in Loudoun have no clue, unless they catch the occasional local newspaper mention of the plastic fetuses incident.

      I can at least comfort myself because Moran's my Congressman and Whipple's my Senator.  (A guy called Bob Hull, a Democrat, is my Delegate, but I haven't seen a single thing that he's done.  He didn't even introduce ANY bills in the pre-file period.  But he does occassionally co-sponsor good bills...)

      Are you familiar with the guy who is running against Dick Black this time?  I'm on the Loudoun Democratic Committee email list and have seen a few things written about him (though I can't recall his name right now).

      Also, fellow Kossack Waldo has started a new PAC, in part to target Dick Black -- the Virginia Family Values PAC.  His writeup of targeted races is one of my favorite written pieces on virginia legislators, ever.  So refreshingly, bluntly scornful.  :-)

      •  Under seige. (none)
        Yes. Mark Warner.

        Unfortunately, if I widen the scope, I also have to take in County Supervisors Eugene "Public Advocate" Delgaudio and Lori "Eagle Forum" Waters.

        Among my neighbors who are aware of Dick Black, about 45% think he's nuts, and 55% think he's a gift from God. About 30% refer to him as "Colonel Black."

        Those who don't know him as the guy who distributes rubber fetuses know him as the guy who robo-dials our phones to tell us he'll be cutting the ribbons at the openings of Route 28 overpasses he probably voted against funding.

      •  Running Against Dick Black? (none)

        I'd like to find out more about the person running against Black.

        Anyone know??

  •  Method Omission (You Must Be Young) (none)
    We use a potent combination of age and long marriage.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Jan 24, 2005 at 09:09:20 AM PST

  •  Maura! I have a stor-a for you. (none)
    This removes some of the oh-so-noble sheen of anonymity behind something I did last year, but it's too good a story not to tell.

    My wife pretty much hates the time I spend on blogs, and the stories I take from them and bore her with. She's tolerant of a few minutes of discussion, and occasionally shows more interest in the big stories, but generally she'd rather keep it to a minimum.

    Over the weekend, I told her the story of your involvement in the defeat of the miscarriage reporting bill, kind of by way of justifying some of the time that people put in on blogs, and got a nod of approval. "That's the sort of thing that's worth doing," she said.

    That's when I told her how the hundred bucks I'd blown on the DCCC back in August was spent to help send you to the DNC.

    So that bought me a couple of hours this weekend, and a little more room to bring blog discussions back home in the future.

    Thanks!

    •  Hey, THANKS! (none)
      Thanks so much for helping to send me to Boston!  Woo hoo!  I'm glad my recent advocacy helped to expiate your wife's anti-blog feeling.  :-)

      And thanks for your generosity.  

      I'd be curious to know your wife's perspective on this bill and Dick Black...since she's not as consumed with politics as us, she's a closer judge of the "average" person in Loudoun.  Does she know her Delegate thinks contraceptives are baby pesticides?

      •  I doubt she's heard the pesticides line. (none)
        But it wouldn't surprise her. She's heard enough to have a pretty clear opinion of Black.

        It might surprise some neighbors, though. Bumper stickers that say, "Dick Black says contraceptives are 'baby pesticides,'" with a source (in small type) might raise some eyebrows around here.

  •  thanks again, Maura (none)
    You're a great researcher. Makes me wish I was still in VA so I could call or write someone. And since I see only one vote there for Elaine's method of choice, the sponge, I thought I'd just mention that even though problems at the production facility have prevented them from being sold in the US (totally bogus FDA action, BTW) they probably soon will be again. And in the meantime, you can order them from Canada.
    •  Stockpile (4.00)
      Yes, but who is truly spongeworthy nowadays anyway?  :-)

      I find it hilarious that so many people have chosen hearing Ashcroft sing as a contraceptive method.  I think I should contact the curriculum designers for Virginia Family Life Education classes and have them recommend this as part of their abstinence-only curricula!

      •  you can tell the real junkies (none)
        That Ashcroft and blogging are winning the poll is somewhat pathetic. What a bunch of people with screwed-up priorities are we?

        I wonder how access to sponges affects the general perception of sponge-worthiness? That was whole premise of the story line, wasn't it. But does the hassle of having to get them mailorder equate with the possibility of the supply running out completely? Hmmmmm.

    •  Contributing! (none)
      You can't call or write.  But you can still help by contributing to our victory!

      Well...actually you can't do anything until Feb. 26 when the Assembly session ends and fundraising is allowed.  But then you can help!

  •  Spin Mucus and Basal Temperture (none)
    When your vaginal mucus can hold together as you spread your thumb and forefinger and your Basal (in the morning, at waking, before you move a muscle to leave your bed) is above normal by 2 or 3 tenths of a degree (you'll need a special basal thermometer with tenths of degrees) you are fertile. Good time to try to make babies, bad time for just sex.

    But don't listen to me. My knowledge is from years ago. Maybe they have better ways of telling now.

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