Margaret Doyle, 53, of Richmond became the face of the recent spate of abortion rights protests in Virginia after she was photographed being escorted from a building after a tense committee meeting to consider the so-called personhood bill.
What many don’t know is that Doyle wrote to Del. Kathy Byron (R-Campbell), the sponsor of the bill requiring ultrasounds before abortions. Once, she e-mailed an angry profanity-laced diatribe that talked about performing a sex act on Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) that was read on the Senate floor (without using her name). Two weeks earlier, she had sent a photograph of her smiling with her middle finger up. She signed the e-mails and included her contact information.
“What a disgusting, disgraceful and vile pig you are — the women of Virginia (except for the Christians that drink your kool-aid) have been pushed back to the dark ages because of you and Bob Marshall — shame on you for being a foot soldier in the war on women,” Doyle wrote in an e-mail to Byron. “How does it feel to be an accessory to state-mandated molestation — at least you’re not an accessory to rape anymore.” She ended the missive with an expletive-laced insult.
Doyle, reached Tuesday, said she was frustrated by Byron’s betrayal of women. “That’s not the way I like to do things,’’ she said. “I’m a much more level-headed person.”
The e-mails, part of hundreds that were sent during the legislative session that ended Saturday, underscored the passion felt on both sides as the General Assembly considered several abortion measures.
Several abortion bills died — including the personhood measure, denying state-funded abortions to poor women with grossly deformed fetuses and banning abortions after 20 weeks. But the one that required women to get an ultrasound before an abortion was signed into law by McDonnell.
Doyle, the owner of Richmond's Espresso-A-Go-Go Coffee Catering, said she was upset to learn that her e-mail was read out loud (in redacted form) by Senate Majority Leader Thomas Norment (R-James City), though he did not utter her name, business or phone number.
Doyle, who is originally from Chicago and moved to Virginia in 1998, said she reached the point that she had to do something because she was so angry that a woman sponsored the bill. “I was shocked it was woman,’’ she said. “How do you do that? How do you get out of bed?’’
She said she received hundreds of phone calls and e-mails after the photo was published online Feb. 23, and that nearly all of them have been complimentary. And she said that many people passing her on the street recognize her from her photo and wave or give her a thumbs-up, but that some give her the middle finger.
Byron and Norment did not immediately return phone calls. But in late February, Byron decried the reaction to her bill, which was mocked on national TV. She said she had been subjected to vile messages, sometimes even threats.
“These individuals – sometimes anonymous, sometimes revealing their identities – are the voices of extremism,” Byron said. “They left vile phone messages with our secretaries and our voicemail, and have sent obscene e-mails and letters. They have readily and quite casually suggested methods by which we should die, and openly expressed their desires that our deaths be hastened. Throughout this period, these voices openly expressing hatred have been encouraged and cheered on by partisans in some select corners of the national, not necessarily Virginia, media.”