By Dai Já Norman
Capital News Service
RICHMOND – Opponents of abortion rights won a victory Monday when the House Rules Committee approved a resolution to designate the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision as a "Day of Tears."
The committee voted 10 to 4, along party lines, to send the resolution, introduced by Republican Dels. Benjamin Cline of Amherst and Richard Bell of Staunton, to the full House of Delegates.
Democratic Dels. Kenneth Plum of Reston, David J. Toscano of Charlottesville, Jeion A. Ward of Hampton and Betsy B. Carr voted against the resolution. The chairman of the House Rules Committee, House Speaker William J. Howell of Stafford, did not vote.
The resolution, HR 268, would recognize Jan. 22 as the Day of Tears. It was on Jan. 22, 1973, that the Supreme Court declared that the U.S. Constitution protects a woman's right to have an abortion.
The resolution reads: "Since that fateful day, over 58 million unborn children have perished; now, therefore, be it resolved, that January 22 shall be called the Day of Tears in Virginia and that the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia are encouraged to lower their flags to half-staff to mourn the innocents who have lost their lives to abortion."
Members of an anti- abortion organization with the same name as the bill, A Day of Tears, said lowering the flags to half-staff would open a dialogue about abortion.
Diana Shores, the social media director for Day of Tears, said she was pleased with the committee's action and was optimistic for the future of resolution.
"I've got a lot of support," Shores said. "We've lobbied almost all of the House of Delegates so it [HR 268] should be doing well."
Cline said he was glad to help the organization achieve its goal. However, he said there has been some misinterpretation of the resolution by a few citizens.
"There are some [people] who misunderstand it and think that is somehow an official date, and that state agencies would be required to lower their flags or something like that. It's not," Cline said.
"It's a simple expression of the House's support for the work of a nonprofit – something that we do countless times throughout the year."
However, Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, said the resolution is detrimental to women who have exercised their right to make a conscious decision to get an abortion.
"Unfortunately, it's a shame that Ben Cline feels like he needs to shame women for making a decision that they feel is right for themselves and their family," Keene said. "Certainly, we [NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia] feel like women should be respected and trusted when they have made a decision to terminate a pregnancy. And what this bill does is basically disgusting."