UPDATED: Photos: Abortion protests lead to 30 arrests at Virginia Capitol

Nearly 500 protestors gathered this afternoon at the Virginia Capitol to protest a bill that recently passed through the General Assembly that would require women seeking abortions to undergo an ultrasound. State Police in riot gear were on hand, and thirty-one people were arrested


2/22/12; 4:20pm
The story has been updated to reflect that Capitol Police estimate that approximately 1,000 protestors were on hand at the event, and that a total of 30 individuals were arrested

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Nearly 1000 protestors gathered today at the Capitol to protest the General Assembly’s recent passage of a controversal bill that would require women seeking abortions to undergo a medically unnecessary ultrasound. Supporters of the legislation believe that the ultrasound requirement will dissuade women from abortion procedures. Detractors of the legislation argue that the bill intrudes upon women’s privacy and rights.

At about 3pm this afternoon, Virginia State Police outfitted with riot gear attempted to impede demonstrators, and police officers arrested protestors who would not leave the south steps of the Capitol building. This was the second major gathering at the Virginia Capitol in as many weeks to protest recent legislation within the General Assembly that deal with women’s rights.

The bill will now go to Gov. McDonnell, who has said that he would sign the bill.

Previous coverage of this bill can be found here and here.

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Photos courtesy of Patience Salgado

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  1. It would be more appropriate to title this article/photo essay “Rally by women’s health advocates” or “Women’s rights advocates” rather than the narrow “Abortion protests.”

    Thank you for considering this suggestion, and also thanks for sharing these excellent photos.


  2. [W]e cannot depend on the governments of the world to abolish war because they and the economic interests they represent benefit from war. Therefore, we, the people of the world, must take up the challenge. And although we do not command armies, we do not have great treasuries of wealth, there is one crucial fact that gives us enormous power: the governments of the world cannot wage war without the participation of the people. Albert Einstein understood this simple fact. Horrified by the carnage of World War I in which ten million people died in the battle fields of Europe, Einstein said: “Wars will stop when men refuse to fight.”

    This is our challenge, to bring the world to the point where men will refuse to fight, and governments will be helpless to wage war.

    – Howard Zinn

  3. So sad that peaceful protesting brings out troops (here and everywhere these days). My hat is off to these brave women and men.

  4. Elizabeth Potter Graham on said:

    Alabama is next.

  5. hugh jarse on said:

    Welcome to Bob McDonnell’s Virginia. Corporations are People, Embryos are People. Women? Eh, not so much.

  6. YOUR CHOICE? on said:

    Why should it be a womans choice to end a life? I don’t care if you believe in God or not… Your life is not more important than anothers! That child can be loved by someone else if you don’t want to step up, it doesn’t matter how that BABY got there!

  7. Stephanie Sowers on said:

    Wowww!! Are you kidding me Virginia??!! I grew up Virginia and live in Cali now…l love Virginia but do not miss the backwards a** ways of the commonwealth state!! Keep up the protests!! These people have NO RIGHT to tell a woman to have an ultrasound!! Seriously!! Get a grip people!! ugggh…!!

  8. Andrew Owen on said:

    As a Soldier who has been deployed to third-world countries on Peace-enforcing missions, I can tell you that those police officers are not postured for peace enforcement. Those officers are dressed and prepared for war. It is shameful that we feel the need to call in armed warriors to disperse peaceful protestors from the one place in the state where they should be able to protest and assemble (especially during a General Assembly).

  9. Bert on said:

    I had heard southerners treated women as gentlemen?

    Another illusion shattered.

  10. Jeff E. on said:

    It’s a little off-putting to see the supposed “outrage” over an ultrasound since at the foundation of all this, these women still have their sacred right to end a life whenever they feel it would be inconvenient for them to raise it. Nevermind the right to choose whether or not to have sex, who you have sex with, when, and with what contraception so that abortion can be avoided to begin with… only the right to eliminate a mistake seems to bring out the passion in people. That makes me sad.

  11. Michelle Dozhier on said:

    Unbelievable that we are debating this issue. It’s n ot about abortion people, it’s about a woman’s right to choose her health care. The people who want to end insurance coverage for contraception are the same ones who want to require an ultrasound of the uterus before an abortion. Not one woman I know wants to have an abortion, and contrary to the urban myth, women do not use abortion as a means of contraception. It is never a first choice, the women I know who have had to seek one out have come to their decision after many hours of thought.This protest and others like it aren’t even about abortion, they are about women’s rights, rights that are eroded daily. When was the last time a man was required to look at babies and fetuses or getting counseling before undergoing a vasectomy?

  12. Jeff E. on said:

    Abortion is at the center of this debate, there’s simply no way around it. Yes, adding the step of an ultrasound was the State’s clumsy attempt to put up a hurdle that COULD make the prospective person reconsider her abortion. There was no malicious intent… if you feel that small delay or that picture of a fetus on a screen would be enough to make a person reconsider then how could that possibly be harmful? A life is saved and a mother doesn’t have to suffer the trauma of an abortion. How exactly is that anti-women’s rights? If they passed a law requiring the would-be father to be there would that seem more fair? I’d certainly have nothing against it.

  13. Michelle Dozhier on said:

    Sure, if you could just put enough road blocks up then a woman would reconsider her choice, she just isn’t informed enough. She needs to be shown the error of her ways. By the time a woman has chosen abortion, she has already thought it through and needs no more education on the subject. We DO know our own minds. Every single study on the subject shows that women do not change their minds no matter what literature is shown. Like I said before, it’s not a choice any woman comes to lightly, but it is a choice that should be offered.

  14. Jeff E. on said:

    I can’t pretend to know what it’s like to have a life inside of me or how difficult it is to come to the decision to abort it. I can only say that raw statistics leave pro-life people with the impression that too often it IS taken too lightly.

  15. yellowbellies on said:

    What kind of contemptible cowards are these Virgina politicians, that they need paramilitary commandos in helmets and balaclavas to protect them against disapproving women?

  16. bopst on said:

    The thing everyone should remember about this is the importance of voting. It’s not like, “Bob For Jobs” McDonnell & his ilk ever hid their beliefs; this is what Virginia republicans always do. Anyone who cares to pay attention is not surprised by the their actions…

  17. Scott Burger on said:

    It goes back to principles. What are the Republicrat corporate duopoly’s principles? Personally I do not trust them at all anymore.

    In contrast, the Green Party spells out it’s platform for it’s members:


    A. Civil Rights and Equal Rights
    The foundation of any democratic society is the guarnatee that each member of society has equal rights. Respect for our constitutionally protected rights is our best defense against discrimination and the abuse of power. Also, we recognize an intimate connection between our rights as individuals and our responsibilities to our neighbors and the planet. The Green Party shall strive to secure universal effective recognition and observance of the principles and spirit expressed in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights as an international standard that all nations must meet.

    One of our key values is respect for diversity. We are committed to establishing relationships that honor diversity; that support the self-definition and self-determination of all people; and that consciously confront the barriers of racism, sexism, homophobia, class oppression, ageism, and the many ways our culture separates us from working together. We support affirmative action to remedy discrimination, to protect constitutional rights and to provide equal opportunity under the law.

    1. Women’s Rights
    Since the beginning of what we call civilization, when men’s dominance over women was firmly established, until the present day, our history has been marred with oppression of and brutality to women. The Green Party deplores this system of male domination, known as, in all its forms, both subtle and overt – from oppression, inequality, and discrimination to all forms of violence against women and girls including rape, trafficking, forced sex which is also rape, slavery, prostitution and violence against women within marriage and relationships and in all institutions. The change the world is crying for cannot occur unless women’s voices are heard. Democracy cannot work without equality for women that provides equal participation and representation. It took an extraordinary and ongoing fight over 72 years for Women to win the right to vote. However, the Equal Rights Amendment, first introduced in 1923 has still not been ratified by 2010, representing a continuous struggle of 87 years with no victory in sight.

    We believe that equality should be a given, and that all Greens must work toward that end. We are committed to increasing participation of women in politics, government and leadership so they can change laws, make decisions, and create policy solutions that affect and will improve women’s lives, and we are building our party so that Greens can be elected to office to do this. In July 2002 the National Women’s Caucus of the Green Party of the United States was founded to carry out the Party’s commitment to women.

    We also support, and call on others to support, the many existing and ongoing efforts for women:

    Social Equality

    We support the equal application of the Constitution of the United States of America to all citizens, and therefore call for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). We urge accelerated ratification by three or more of the remaining 15 states that are required to pass ERA into law and into the Constitution. We urge renewed efforts and campaigns to ratify the ERA. We support the Equal Rights Amendment reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on July 21, 2009 as H.J.Res 61, and support using the precedent of a three-state strategy for ratification.
    We call for equal representation of women in Congress instead of the current 15% in 2010.
    The Green Party calls for U.S. passage of CEDAW, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, which was adopted in 1979 by the U.N. General Assembly and ratified by 173 countries. The U.S. is one of the very few countries, and the only industrialized nation, that have not ratified it.
    The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission should actively investigate and prosecute sexual harassment complaints. Women who file complaints must not be persecuted and should be protected under federal and state law. We must enshrine in law the basic principle that women have the same rights as men, and promote gender equality and fairness in the work force to ensure that women receive equal pay for jobs of equal worth.
    We support the inclusion of an equal number of women and men in peace talks and negotiations, not only because these efforts directly affect their lives and those of their husbands, children and families, but also because when women are involved, the negotiations are more successful.
    Reproductive Rights

    Women’s rights must be protected and expanded to guarantee each woman’s right as a full participant in society, free from sexual harassment, job discrimination or interference in the intensely personal choice about whether to have a child.
    Women’s right to control their bodies is non-negotiable. It is essential that the option of a safe, legal abortion remains available. The “morning- after” pill must be affordable and easily accessible without a prescription, together with a government-sponsored public relations campaign to educate women about this form of contraception. Clinics must be accessible and must offer advice on contraception and the means for contraception; consultation about abortion and the performance of abortions, and; abortion regardless of age or marital status.
    We endorse women’s right to use contraception and, when they choose, to have an abortion. This right cannot be limited to women’s age or marital status. Contraception and abortion must be included in all health insurance policies in the U.S., and any state government must be able to legally offer these services free of charge to women at the poverty level. Public health agencies operating abroad should be allowed to offer family planning, contraception, and abortion in all countries that ask for those services. We oppose our government’s habit of cutting family planning funds when those funds go to agencies in foreign countries that give out contraceptive devices, offer advice on abortion, and perform abortions
    We encourage women and men to prevent unwanted pregnancies. It is the inalienable right and duty of every woman to learn about her body and to be aware of the phases of her menstrual cycle, and it is the duty for every man to be aware of the functions and health of his and his partner’s bodies. This information is necessary for self determination, to make informed decisions, and to prevent unintended consequences. Unplanned conception takes control away from individuals and makes them subject to external controls. The “morning-after” pill and option of a safe and legal abortion need to remain available.
    Economic Equality

    Since, nationally, women earn only 77% of men’s wages for equal work, despite outnumbering men in the workforce and despite the U.S. 1963 Equal Pay Act, we support intensified effort to see this unfair gap closed, including support for the Paycheck Fairness Act now in the Senate as S.182 and similar legislation, and greater effort at enforcement.
    Single mothers are the largest and most severely impoverished group in the United States, which explains why 25% of the children in our country live below the poverty line. Welfare reform has forced mothers to abandon their children while they travel to work at minimum wage jobs. With the extreme pay inequity, single mothers cannot afford child care, nurture their children, and move out of poverty.
    The Green Party supports real reforms to end poverty and return dignity and opportunity to all mothers. We call for implementing innovative programs that work with the particular and special needs of motherhood. We also support other programs such as a universal basic income (known also as a guaranteed income or Citizen Dividend, as described in True Cost Pricing and Tax Fairness ) that will provide for those who nurture the next generation – work that is of incalculable importance to our society.
    Violence and Oppression

    Language is often used as a weapon by those with power, and women have traditionally borne the brunt of inflicted injuries. Freedom of speech is vital to democracy. However, we believe that this freedom should not be used to perpetuate oppression and abuse.
    Violence against women is increasing nationwide. We must address the root cause of all violence even as we specifically address violence to women. We support stronger legislation, programs and enforcement. We also call for new dialog and re-thinking that can lead to better language, ideas and solutions. We urge that the term, domestic violence, be replaced by the term, violence, because the term, domestic violence, is perceived as not real violence and leads to it not being treated legally and practically for the violence that it is. We urge that the term, sex work, not be used in relation to prostitution. With the increasing conflation of the violent and illegal trafficking in women and girls for forced sex with prostitution, it is impossible to know which is which and what violence the term, sex work, is masking. No source in existence knows which prostitution comprises forced sex and which comprises free will or choice prostitution. Forced sex is rape, and it is a crime. An increasing number of experts think the percentage of choice prostitution is very small, leaving the larger number of women exposed to serious and fatal violence. Much of what is commonly called prostitution is actually sex trafficking by definition. The Green Party calls for a safer world for women and girls.
    The Green Party has zero tolerance for the illegal international trafficking in humans. Of the millions of humans trafficked worldwide, the large majority are women and children who are bought and sold as slaves. They are kept captive and in debt-bondage that can never be paid off. Most are sold over and over again for forced sex prostitution. Forced sex is rape and a serious crime. Some are forced to labor in agriculture, sweat shops, hotels, restaurants, domestic service and other forms of servitude. According to Human Rights Watch, in all cases coercive tactics – including deception, fraud, intimidation, isolation, threat and use of physical force, or debt bondage – are used to control women. Estimates of human trafficking in the U.S. vary greatly from 18,000 to 50,000 to over 100,000 with a worldwide estimate of 12.5 million, mostly women and children.
    The Green Party calls for new U.S. legislation relating to prostitution modeled on the Swedish law passed in 1999, now adopted by other countries and being considered by more, that has drastically reduced human trafficking and prostitution in Sweden. That law criminalizes the purchase of services from prostitutes, pimps and brothel keepers instead of criminalizing the prostitutes. The Green Party urges the U.S. to open dialogs and visit with Sweden as a step toward introducing legislation in the U.S. Congress to address the exploitation, violence and harm to women through prostitution.
    The Green Party supports all efforts to eradicate this extreme abuse of human rights, including but not limited to enforcement of existing laws and passage of tough new ones, punishing traffickers, aiding victims, increasing public awareness, reforming immigration laws, supporting existing programs and creating new ones.
    We support the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report as an important document to begin to combat this abuse. We support and urge enforcement of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (HR 3244) signed into law on October 28, 2000. This Act authorizes funding for the prevention of trade in human beings and for protecting victims. It gives the State Department a historic opportunity to create an office with the exclusive responsibility of ending traffic in humans and protecting the victims of this world-wide trade. We urge committed political support to achieve the cooperation of all different levels of government.
    The Green Party urges a more thorough dialog and understanding of violence against women and girls, including from prostitution and trafficking, that causes health and injury damage that seriously degrades their lives, even to death or premature death including from HIV, syphilis and many other diseases, as well as causing severe economic hardships. We call for solutions to this enormous problem that can result in awareness and the introduction of legislation in the U.S. Congress to address it.

  18. Scott Burger on said:

    BTW, on a related note:

    The Green Party urges the Supreme Court to strike down the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance mandates, sees a chance for Medicare For All


  19. andy on said:

    Bloody hell!

    That’s something straight out of The Handmaid’s Tale! What are you, Americans or Gideans?

  20. W. Kiernan on said:

    I remember hearing a story about the Texas Rangers. There was this town in Texas where there were riots taking place, so the mayor called Austin on the phone and begged for help. He got a return call saying “The Texas Rangers are on the way! They’ll be arriving at the train station at noon.” So the mayor goes to the station, the train pulls in, and one Texas Ranger casually steps off the train. The mayor says, “What? There’s only one of you?” The Ranger replies, “There’s only one riot, right?”

    That’s what cops used to be like – resolute, confident, unafraid. You may not always have liked them but you had to respect their toughness. But today? Look at those preposterous, contemptible wimps in photo #102! Armed like soldiers facing heavy combat to take on a bunch of peaceful women with cardboard signs. What are they so afraid of, the baby in #100 is going to beat them up with his rattle? Ridiculous!

  21. River on said:

    Jeff E:

    1) In case it slipped under your radar, lots of people are very angry about lack of accessibility to birth control. There is a very large national debate going on about a woman’s right to choose her own form of contraception

    2) Having the father there? Even if the father is the woman’s rapist or abusive father?

    3) The malicious part of this law is the fact that the ultrasound procedure in question would be a forced, non medically necessary penetration of the woman. What’s another word for forced, non-voluntary penetration? The reason all these women are angry is because they feel violated by the new policy. Whether or not you agree with it, abortion is legally a right that women have in this country. How would you feel if the state mandated that a doctor penetrate you (if you know what I mean) in order to exercise your legal rights?

    4) You are right. You have no idea how it feels to be pregnant, or how it feels to decide to abort your baby. I’m not saying I do, but it is best not to judge what you cannot understand

  22. Justin Smith on said:


    Aparently you didn’t read the article or have kept yourself up to speed on this topic. Let’s review:

    1) The debate is not about accessability to birth control, it is about the government forcing businesses to provide healthcare that covers specific types of birth control. Last time I checked, condoms are a form of birth control and those are not covered by insurance. And, as a matter of fact, most planned parenthood offices around the country offer free condoms. That small inconvient fact aside, I’m pretty sure that a box of condoms costs less than an abortion.

    2) If keeping abortion legal for instances of rape was the only real issue, there would be no protestors arguing against an ultrasound. In fact, I think you would get little opposition from the pro-life side if you offered to put a bill into law that would make abortions illegal in all instances except rape, incest or the mothers life being in danger. BUT I’m guessing that won’t ever happen, so let’s stop pretending that rape is really the motivation to keep abortion legal.

    3) The “forced, non medically necessary penetration of the woman” part was taken out of the bill and replaced with an abdominal ultrasound that does not involve any penetration at all.

    4) What I can understand is that there are two people involved in creating a life. Why does only one person get to decide to end that life and why does the only person not involved in the decision to make life the only who whose life is cut short? I find it interesting that everyone who is in favor of abortion has already been born.

  23. Kimberly on said:

    Why are women getting pregnant when body is not nourished enough for pregnancy?

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