Atif Qarni Statement on Manassas Zoning Laws

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    The following statement is from Democratic State Senate candidate Atif Qarni, who is showing strong leadership on this important issue. For more on what’s going on, see the speech by Brian Devine of Progress Virginia to the Manassas City Council a few weeks ago, as well as the video I’ve embedded here, in which anti-choice extremist Del. Bob Marshall speaks, followed by Atif Qarni supporting a woman’s right to choose.

    Qarni Questions Parrish Vote, Calls For Greater Protection Of Women’s Health Services

    MANASSAS, VA – Atif Qarni released the following statement in response to Mayor Hal Parrish’s vote to implement new zoning laws that restrict the creation of new health centers in Manassas:

    “Attacks on women’s health should have no place in our community,” said Atif Qarni, candidate for Senate in the 29th District. “These ideologically-motivated zoning updates will place excessive burdens on local health centers, preventing residents from getting the medical care they need. Zoning laws should help drive economic growth and development, and should not be a platform for ideological grandstanding. This district deserves a representative that prioritizes education, transportation, and jobs, not a radical anti-woman agenda. I will continue to fight for access to crucial health services for all Virginians.”

    Qarni has a long record of supporting women’s health institutions, and opposing radical agendas that seek to limit a woman’s ability to make her own health choices. He was an outspoken champion against radical conservatism in his 2013 campaign, and he will continue to be a strong voice against hyper-conservative agendas intended on taking Virginia backwards.

    Atif Qarni was a Marine for eight years, including a tour in Iraq in which he served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and was among the first American troops to enter Baghdad. He is currently an eighth grade math teacher at nearby Beville Middle School, as well as a member of Governor McAuliffe’s Small Business Commission. He lives in Manassas with his wife and two young sons.

    Atif Qarni is running for the Senate of Virginia because he believes our district needs a committed leader to continue the legacy of Senator Colgan- one who will fight for important issues like improving our schools by reducing class sizes, bringing more jobs to Manassas and Prince William County, and reducing the burden of traffic and congestion. He will be a strong voice for the values of the 29th District. The Democratic primary will be held on Tuesday, June 9th. For more information, please visit qarniforsenate.com.

    • City Council voted to approve a de-facto ban on women’s health centers opening or relocating within city

      Manassas, VA – Monday evening, Virginia women’s health advocates condemned Mayor Harry “Hal” Parrish and the Manassas City Council for their vote to officially adopt dangerous new zoning restrictions on abortion providers.  The restrictions–which were rolled into the city’s comprehensive zoning update after a small City Council meeting last week–single out women’s health centers for discriminatory zoning and represent a virtual ban on abortion providers relocating or opening within Manassas city. Mayor Hal Parrish, who is currently running as a Republican for Virginia Senate, cast the tie-breaking vote in support of the amendment last week at a Council work session and again tonight, after voting to reject the city staff’s recommendation.

      Despite the last-minute amendment, city residents were not offered the opportunity for public comment at Monday’s meeting prior to the vote. In response, activists delivered over 250 petition signatures to the Mayor – in advance of the City Council meeting – urging Manassas elected officials to stop discriminating against women’s health centers.

      “It is unbelievable that Mayor Parrish would put an extreme anti-women agenda before the health and safety of residents, women, and families of Manassas and Prince William County,” said Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. “Women’s health centers provide cancer screenings, family planning services and preventative care to thousands of patients, often to low-income women who can’t afford care elsewhere. The Mayor should focus on improving the well-being of city residents and ensuring the economic future of Manassas – not on attacking women’s health.”

      “Hal Parrish isn’t a doctor, but he obviously wants to play one in his campaign for State Senate,” said Anna Scholl, executive director of ProgressVA. “Virginia women have repeatedly made clear we oppose this sort of political interference in private, personal health care decisions. Manassas and Prince William women should beware of any politician, like Hal Parrish, who campaigns for higher office by attacking access to reproductive health care.”

      “This vote not only makes it more expensive and difficult for women’s health providers to locate within the city, but it also erodes access to critical preventative care and testing. If we need to see what unintended consequences look like, we only have to look at the HIV epidemic in Scott County, Indiana. Because politicians forced a rural Planned Parenthood affiliate to close, politicians also forced the only HIV testing center in the county to close. Tactics like the special use permit process could have similar unintended effects posing a danger to public health,” said Laura Meyers, Ph.D., CEO of the Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington Action Fund.

      Last Monday’s last minute amendment to the comprehensive zoning update singles out women’s health centers from other like medical providers, such as doctors or dentists’ offices and requires expensive and unnecessary special use permits for location anywhere in the city. Special use permits are time-consuming process open to interference from political interests.