A petition opposing two abortion-related bills winding through the Virginia legislature is spreading like "wildfire." In just over 24 hours, 17,000 people have signed the measure that says the Virginia government is conducting a "war on women."
The petition is organized by ProgressVA. Most of the signatories say they are Virginia residents and most are women, and the message they give is clear: The government is overstepping its bounds.
"This war on women has got to stop," the petition reads. "Virginia may be the butt of jokes for late night comedians, but the bills coming out of the General Assembly this year are no laughing matter."
Catherine from Richmond wrote next to her name: "I say to you men in the Virginia legislature - Leave our bodies alone. This is not your place; this is not your right. What you're doing is immoral."
The online petition through signon.org has been spreading quickly, largely through social media. (In the thirty minutes it took me to write this story, 300 additional people added their name.)
"We're absolutely pleased and frankly a little overwhelmed," with petition response, Anna Scholl, Executive Director of ProgressVA, said. "It's been spreading like wildfire."
The petition is addressed to The Virginia State Senate, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and Governor Bob McDonnell as they are instrumental in the future of these bills. (McDonnell is considered a rising star in the Republican Party. He has been mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate.)
The Virginia House of Delegates passed HB 1,. It defines a fertilized egg as a person, and according to the legislation, "provides that unborn children at every stage of development enjoy all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of the Commonwealth."
Virginia would be the first state in the nation to define a fetus - and a fertilized egg - as a person. It passed the General Assembly and the Senate could take it up as early as this week, if it chooses.
The second bill petitioners object to is HB 462, which requires a woman receive a transvaginal ultrasound before an abortion. Both bodies of the legislature have passed this measure and only needs Republican Gov. McDonnell's signature before it becomes law.
Scholl says they will continue to spread the word and hope to deliver the petitions as early as this week.
"These recent policies turn my stomach. I believe in fiscal conservatism. Stop mixing it with my personal rights," Lisa Schroeer of Charlottesville, Virginia wrote.