RICHMOND — There were protests and candlelight vigils, stories on national TV and late-night jokes.
Now, a group of women in Virginia has formed a political action committee to try to defeat legislators who backed a pair of contentious abortion bills.
The Women’s Strike Force’s leadership team has several former elected officials, including former state delegates Katherine Wadell (I-Richmond), Robin Abbott (D-Newport News), Kris Amundson (D-Fairfax) and Margi Vanderhye (D-Fairfax, as well as Leslie Byrne, a former congresswoman and an unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor in 2005.
“As a former member of the General Assembly and Virginia’s first woman in Congress, I fought for women’s rights in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s,” Byrne said. “We must move the commonwealth and the nation forward, not backslide to denying women rights.”
Several Virginia Republicans, including a spokesman for the state party, declined to comment.
A half-dozen of the women spoke by phone Sunday after Virginia spent last week in the national limelight because of the Republican-led General Assembly’s attempt to require women to undergo mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds before an abortion and to give rights to fertilized eggs, said Rebecca Geller, a Fairfax resident who is on the group’s leadership team. Some of the women attended a protest the previous week at Capitol Square in Richmond.
By Sunday afternoon, they had a concept. By that evening, they had a name. After an all-nighter, they had a Web site.
On Monday, the group filed documents with the Internal Revenue Service, and they began to do the same with the state election board, Geller said.
The PAC raised $1,600 in its first hour, receiving donations of $5 to $10,000 from contributors in about 30 states, said Geller, who declined to say how much the group has raised.
The Women’s Strike Force was featured on MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show” on Monday, which led to more contributions and volunteers, Geller said. People have volunteered to help from more than 40 states, she said.
“Virginia has become fodder for ridicule nationally,” Wadell said. “I am truly embarrassed by the actions of the majority-party members in the House of Delegates and Senate.”