The following update from State Senator Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax) is excellent and well worth reading. I’ve highlighted parts that jumped out at me:
It’s been a shocking couple of weeks. The January 6th hearings provided explosive details on the planning and execution of the attack on the US Capitol. The US Supreme Court overturned the fundamental right to abortion. And so far this year we’ve had 319 people murdered in mass shootings, the most recent just a couple of days ago. It’s a difficult time.
When I said “stay safe” in my Independence Day note to you, I honestly did not expect that we would have yet another massacre, this time during a 4th of July parade executed by another lone individual with a high capacity rifle. I mourn for all of us. The stories from Monday should be unimaginable, but have now become a regular occurrence in the United States. This is an epidemic unique to the USA. Let’s not kid ourselves; we have the ability to reduce gun violence if we have the political will and I call upon my colleagues at every level to do the right thing. You may recall that I am from the gun-loving deep south. At this point, I even have conservative, gun-owning Republican family members who have come to the conclusion that enough is enough. They agree with me that we need to get these military grade weapons out of the hands of individuals. I will continue to work with our gun violence prevention advocates and am happy to work with members on all sides to make progress. I plan to carry legislation that will put liability on sellers and manufacturers when a gun is used to murder another person. I carried similar legislation in 2018.
The impact of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling has dismantled the fundamental right to abortion and overturned nearly 50 years of precedent. This is wrong and I will fight to protect continued access to safe, legal abortion here in Virginia. Everyone should have the power to control their own bodies, lives, and futures.
You should understand that Governor Youngkin has clearly stated he will sign any bill that restricts a person’s ability to decide when and where they will start a family. He even made a public statement that he supports restricting bodily autonomy starting at fertilization when sperm and egg meet. Not only does he want to stop people from obtaining an abortion but this would put in jeopardy some forms of contraception. Make no mistake. I have provided more information further down in today’s newsletter.
On a more optimistic note, next week I will travel to Oklahoma to participate in the Council of State Government’s Healthy States Task Force where I serve on the Civic Health subcommittee. We are a small bipartisan group of elected officials working on increasing public civic engagement and considering ways to seek bipartisan collaboration in this poisonous political environment, shoring up election integrity and working to dispel false election integrity conspiracy efforts. I also serve on the State’s Commission on Civic Education working on similar matters. These are efforts we simply must prioritize if we intend to continue our democratic system. I have long acknowledged that yes, we will always have serious policy differences, but we can disagree without dangerous personal attacks. Over the past several years we’ve seen a serious increase in the number of elected officials, judges, local government staff, as well as advocates and their families receiving death threats and personal attacks. Locally, our school board members, teachers and elections officials have operated under seriously disturbing conditions enduring all sorts of threats and intimidation which appear to be sanctioned by some media personalities and shockingly by some elected officials. I’ve gotten my fair share of threatening messages and outrageous personal attacks, as I would imagine all of my House and Senate colleagues have received. This cannot stand. Democracy takes effort from everyone. If we ever questioned it, each of us should know by now that elections have consequences. Thank you for your confidence in my work. It means a great deal to me.