BREAKING NEWS! Chris Graham of the Augusta Free Presss has just broken the news that Delegate John Cosgrove will withdraw HB1677 from consideration:
Legislation that would have required mothers who had failed to report fetal deaths to the police within 12 hours of the delivery to face a possible misdemeanor sentence will be withdrawn, its patron said on Monday.
"I've elected to withdraw HB 1677 from consideration by the General Assembly this year. The language is just too confusing," Del. John Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake, told The Augusta Free Press.
Cosgrove's surprise move came after a firestorm of controversy spread across the World Wide Web over the weekend about the possible far-reaching effects of the measure.
A victory for citizen participation in democracy! Does Delegate Cosgrove agree with that assessment, though? No. He's still calling it "misinformation":
Cosgrove, for his part, said opponents of House Bill 1677 were engaging in an active campaign of "misinformation" to get their political points across.
Again, readers are invited to read the bill and read Code of Virginia definition of fetal death and decide for themselves whether the concerns expressed here and, consequently, over a thousand other blogs and discussion boards, were warranted.
Read the whole breaking story here in the Augusta Free Press. Thanks to Delegate Cosgrove for engaging with concerned readers and for making this decision, and thank to the thousands of other citizen bloggers and letter-writers who earn the credit for this remarkable progress in just a few days!
UPDATE: The controversy over HB1677 was also featured on a report by Venton Blandin on WCAV TV (CBS-19 Charlottesville), and Christina Nuckols of the Virginian-Pilot writes "Del. Cosgrove pulls bill after Internet fuels fiery protest". An excerpt:
Del. John A. Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake, was shaken by the speed and volume of the response as word of his bill traveled across the country via the Internet.
“I’ve never been blogged before,” he said. “The tone of the e-mails has been disgusting. It’s, 'You’re a horrible person. You ought to be crucified.’ And those were the nice ones.” ...
Cosgrove said he spent the weekend responding to all 500-plus e-mails he received from people as far away as California and Texas. The original Web site that raised the alarm also posted his response to criticisms.
“They’ve been fairly responsive, but they never talked to me prior to going on the Web,” he said. “I was absolutely mistreated on this.”
I'm sorry you feel mistreated, Delegate Cosgrove.
Is a citizen is under an obligation to not share concerns about proposed legislation with others if the legislator hasn't had a chance to explain his rationale? Ultimately, I don't think most people reading this story had a problem with Delegate Cosgrove's rationale. We all share a desire to promote public policy that protects infants. The problem was not with what Delegate Cosgrove says he wanted to accomplish with the legislation; the concerns were about the content of the bill.
But on a cheeky note, Delegate Cosgrove -- if you happen to bump in to your friend Delegate Robert Marshall there in Richmond, will you please ask him to reply to my email from last Friday about HB1807? I have a few questions about his whole idea to charge a person with a Class 6 felony for providing contraceptives under "certain circumstances". I don't want him to feel mistreated if he gets "blogged", too.