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Morning Notes

A fawn in the woods (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

FCPS Students Rally in Support of Reproductive Health — “Students are calling on Fairfax County Public Schools to reform its sex education program — adding more information about contraception and increasing student access to contraceptives — in response to the fall of Roe v. Wade.” [The Washington Post]

Local Company Helped Built Groundbreaking Telescope — Earlier this week, NASA released the first images from its James Webb Space Telescope, built with a team of private companies led by West Falls Church-based Northrop Grumman. Offering “never-before-seen glimpses into the origins of our universe,” Webb is the “largest, most complex and powerful space telescope ever built.” [FCEDA]

Dozens Vaccinated Against Covid at Reston Clinic — “After months of planning and preparation, the clinic was held at Reston Community Center, located next to Hunters Woods Fellowship House, on June 15. While an initial survey conducted by the Hunters Woods program coordinator found only 50 people were interested in attending, thanks to community outreach, 72 adults and 14 children ended up getting vaccinated.” [Fairfax County Health Department]

Scotts Run Fire Station Gets New Engine — “A big day this Saturday at Station 44, Scotts Run! Engine 444 will be placed in service joining Rescue Squad and Ambulance 444 at the station. Crews working hard this week labelling fire hose to place on the engine. #FCFRD’s newest station opened on August 14, 2021.” [FCFRD/Twitter]

Vienna Considers Starting Budget Process Earlier — “Starting with its next fiscal-year budget cycle, Vienna government staff will give the Vienna Town Council information earlier in the process so they can set priorities to guide the rest of the discussions. The Council expressed support July 11 after Finance Director Marion Serfass outlined the revamped budget schedule.” [Sun Gazette]

Local Bus Drivers Train for Silver Line Phase II — “Fairfax Connector is gearing up for new bus routes coming with the Silver Line Phase II launch. Here’s a look at the most recent test of the bus bridge. As you can see Connector is joined by Metrobus @wmata and Loudoun County Transit” [Fairfax Connector/Twitter]

Northern Virginia Pounces on Cat Cafes — “Northern Virginia is no stranger to cat cafes, as there are 3 currently-open cafes that are all about 30 minutes away from interested Falls Church locals. Patriot Pawsabilities, Mount Purrnon Cat Cafe and Wine Bar and Meows Corner Cat Cafe and Lounge offer feline enthusiasts and/or the average animal lover a cuddly experience.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Former Fort Belvoir Leader Inspires in Alexandria — “Retired U.S. Army Colonel Gregory Gadson says that success happens by staying present, and letting go of the invisible anchors that hold you back. Gadson knows what he’s talking about. The war hero, actor, photographer, philanthropist and business owner is also the first-ever double amputee to command a major military installation — Fort Belvoir.” [ALXnow]

Young Lifeguards Train With FCPD — “Fairfax County police officers in the underwater search and recovery unit were at Lake Barcroft yesterday — but no one drowned. The Lake Barcroft Association had asked the unit to conduct a training class for junior lifeguards.” [Annandale Today]

Hawaiian Music Group Comes to Tysons — “Join us at our Tysons-Pimmit branch Saturday morning to participate in & enjoy the music performed by Ukulele Hui! This performance includes interactive elements. Ukulele Hui is part of the Hawai’i State Society of Washington, D.C.” [Fairfax County Public Library/Twitter]

It’s Friday — Clear throughout the day. High of 84 and low of 69. Sunrise at 5:57 am and sunset at 8:35 pm. [Weather.gov]

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at a previous meeting

Information on reproductive rights resources will be posted to the Fairfax County website in light of the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Last week’s decision leaves it up to individual states to determine regulations for abortions. Some states have trigger laws that went into immediate effect to ban abortions, but Virginia is not one of those states, though the governor has said he will seek to prohibit most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay received calls from people who thought the Supreme Court’s decision banned reproductive health services in Virginia, he said today (Tuesday) at the board meeting.

“And that’s simply not the truth,” he said.

The Board of Supervisors directed staff from the county’s Health and Human Services agencies to collect information for them about the reproductive healthcare resources and women’s health services available in the county through private, nonprofit, and public sector organizations, according to a unanimously approved motion.

Those resources will also inform the webpage for residents on what’s currently available.

“It’s important for us to make sure that…while this is not a decision for the Board of Supervisors, at this time of anxiety, we make sure that people know what their rights are, know what resources are available to them, and know where to find those,” McKay said.

The board also directed its legislative director to keep it up to date on potential initiatives in the General Assembly that could “either threaten or protect reproductive rights in Virginia.” If needed, a committee meeting will be scheduled to further discuss potential additions to the package of legislative priorities that the board sends to state lawmakers every year, McKay said.

All board members supported providing the information on reproductive health services to the public. Some gave emotional comments on the importance of abortion rights.

Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said that abortions were illegal in Argentina, where she emigrated from when she was young, and she never imagined that would become true in the U.S.

“Many lives were lost because those laws were in place,” she said.

Sully District Supervisor Kathy Smith said she’s thankful the information on reproductive rights access in the county will be shared with the community but got emotional during her comments.

“The meat of this issue is that women should have the right to take care of their own bodies with their medical professional,” she said.

McKay said it’s not only a moral obligation to defend rights when they are being stripped away, but also is an economic issue. He questioned whether large corporations would still be interested in coming to Virginia and Fairfax County, which is one of the largest areas of employment in Virginia, if the state restricts abortion access.

McKay and Lee District Supervisor Lusk said if the state does restrict abortions, it will especially affect young and low-income women, who do not have the resources to travel to a state that has access to safe reproductive care.

The county’s programs are what support those families and will need to be able to respond if the state moves to ban access, McKay said.

“There’s a lot of reasons why we need to weigh in on this,” he said. “It’s very much a connection to what we do in local government.”

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Morning Notes

A trail bridge at Hidden Oaks Nature Center in Annandale (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Virginia Reports Second Case of Monkeypox — “The patient is an adult male resident of the Northern region of Virginia who was exposed out of state. The Virginia patient did not require hospitalization and is isolating at home. To protect patient privacy, no further information will be provided.” [VDH]

Discrimination Lawsuit Details Issues at Annandale Apartments — “The Fairfax County Circuit Court heard a case [Friday] that shined a light on the filthy and inhumane conditions at Fairmont Gardens in Annandale. Dean Sanchez, a former leasing agent, is suing the Donaldson Group, the company that owns the apartment complex…Sanchez reports the apartments are infested with mice, bedbugs, roaches, and mold.” [Annandale Today]

Man Arrested in McLean Charged in Capitol Storming — “A U.S. Naval reservist who was assigned to an agency that operates spy satellites told an undercover FBI agent that he stormed the U.S. Capitol with members of the far-right Proud Boys extremist group and has espoused anti-government and antisemitic ideologies, federal authorities said in court records unsealed on Thursday.” [NBC4]

Lawsuit Alleges FCPS Mishandled Sexual Assault Complaint — “Lawyers for a former Fairfax County student recently filed an amended complaint against the Fairfax County School Board outlining allegations of an unsafe environment that led to repeated sexual harassment and sexual assaults of the student.” [Inside NoVA/WTOP]

Metro Introduces $2 Weeknight Fares — “Lower-priced unlimited Metrorail and Metrobus monthly passes are now on sale for travel beginning July 1, providing more flexibility and value to customers who may no longer be commuting five days a week. And beginning Monday, June 27, all customers traveling on Metrorail after 9:30 p.m. on weekdays will benefit from a flat fare of $2 per one-way trip.” [WMATA]

Police Investigate Fairfax City Shooting — “The founder of a non-profit that builds schools for girls in Africa was found shot to death inside his Fairfax city home Friday morning.” [NBC4]

Falls Church Abortion Clinic Plans Expansion — “Falls Church Healthcare Center is working to expand capacity because they suspect they’ll soon get more out-of-state patients. They are looking to add more appointments, considering adding an extra day for scheduling and hiring nurse practitioners to deliver care.” [DCist]

New Lorton Fire Station Gets Grand Opening — “The new $14 million fire station is significantly larger, has energy efficient and environmentally sustainable features, and was outfitted to comfortably accommodate both male and female members of Fairfax County Fire and Rescue and the volunteer fire company.” [On the MoVe]

It’s Monday — Rain in the morning and afternoon. High of 80 and low of 68. Sunrise at 5:47 am and sunset at 8:40 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Supreme Court (via SCOTUS)

(Updated at 7:30 p.m.) The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade today (Friday) in a landmark decision that will effectively ban abortion in more than a dozen states.

Abortion remains legal in Virginia, which doesn’t have so-called “trigger laws” that would go into effect with the court’s ruling.

However, shortly after the news broke this morning, Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) told The Washington Post that he will seek to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Youngkin put out a statement in response to the decision:

The Supreme Court of the United States has rightfully returned power to the people and their elected representatives in the states. I’m proud to be a pro-life Governor and plan to take every action I can to protect life. The truth is, Virginians want fewer abortions, not more abortions. We can build a bipartisan consensus on protecting the life of unborn children, especially when they begin to feel pain in the womb, and importantly supporting mothers and families who choose life. That’s why I’ve asked Senator Siobhan Dunnavant, Senator Steve Newman, Delegate Kathy Byron and Delegate Margaret Ransone to join us in an effort to bring together legislators and advocates from across the Commonwealth on this issue to find areas where we can agree and chart the most successful path forward. I’ve asked them to do the important work needed and be prepared to introduce legislation when the General Assembly returns in January.

The decision will also not immediately impact the legality of abortion in neighboring D.C. and Maryland.

Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano, the county’s top prosecutor, stated that he will never prosecute women for having an abortion, even if the state laws change, a sentiment he previously shared in a New York Times op-ed.

Most of Fairfax County’s representatives expressed outrage, describing the ruling as a rollback on human rights and a “dark moment.”

President Joe Biden, who previously said he’d look to shore up abortion rights, is expected to deliver remarks on the decision at 12:30 p.m.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said in a statement that he’s “deeply concerned about the future of women’s rights and healthcare in our nation” but noted that the Supreme Court ruling won’t immediately affect abortion access in Virginia. Read More

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Abortion rights protestors gather at Hollin Hall Shopping Center in Fort Hunt before marching to Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s home (via @ShutDownDC/Twitter)

(Updated at 2:25 p.m. on 5/12/2022) The high-stakes battle over abortion access reached a residential neighborhood in Fort Hunt last night (Monday) when protestors marched on U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s house.

Drawing about 100 participants, the demonstration was organized by the grassroots protest group ShutDown DC in response to Alito’s draft opinion indicating that the court will overturn its pivotal 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Live video of the protest shows marchers convening at the Hollin Hall Shopping Center on Fort Hunt Road before working their way through neighborhood streets to Alito’s residence. There, they lit candles in the street and delivered speeches for about 15 minutes before returning to the shopping center.

“My body, my choice!” protestors chanted, among other slogans. At one point, they invited residents who came outside to film the passing march to join them, though the onlookers didn’t appear to take them up on the offer.

The Fairfax County Police Department confirmed that its officers responded to the gathering but described the demonstrations as peaceful.

“Officers remained on scene to ensure the safety of the participants, our community members and the roadways until the crowd dispersed on their own,” the FCPD said. “No arrests were made.”

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin said last night that his office coordinated with Fairfax County and Virginia State police, as well as federal authorities, to monitor the protest.

“Virginia State Police will assist federal and local law enforcement as needed to ensure the safety of our citizens, including Supreme Court Justices, who call Virginia home,” Youngkin said on Twitter.

The protest at Alito’s house was one of several abortion-rights demonstrations that have popped up across the D.C. area since Politico published the leaked draft opinion on May 2. A ruling in the case, which involves a challenge to a ban on abortions after 15 weeks in Mississippi, is expected to be finalized this summer.

Students at 11 high schools in Fairfax County rallied yesterday to express their support for abortion as a right and urge state and federal legislators to protect access to the medical procedure.

Protestors have also shown up at the residences of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who both live in Montgomery County, as well as Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who lives in Pimmit Hills. The protests don’t appear to have reached Justice Clarence Thomas in Fairfax Station.

The protests led the Senate to pass legislation yesterday enhancing security at Supreme Court justices’ homes, though the bill still needs to be considered by the House.

The Virginia Republican Party condemned the protests as “an abhorrent and vile affront to the processes of the highest court.”

“Intimidation of the Justices and the threat of violence against them and their families has no place in our Commonwealth or our country,” Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Rich Anderson said in a statement. “Targeting the home of a Justice is wrong, and these protestors should be ashamed of their actions.”

The Democratic Party of Virginia expressed support for yesterday’s student protests but did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Alito demonstration.

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Students swarmed to the front of Herndon High School yesterday (Monday) to protest a pending Supreme Court decision that could overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

The group gathered for about a half hour after lunch, filling up a road, wearing the color green to show support and displaying signs that advocated for abortion rights. Slogans included “Keep your laws off my body,” which was coupled with a picture of a uterus, and “My body is not a political playground.”

Students chanted phrases such as “My body, my choice” and used a megaphone that the school provided. Herndon High School Principal Liz Noto gave permission for students to hold the rally, and school staff stood by in case they needed to intervene.

“I’m honestly really surprised,” co-organizer Grace Dowell said. “I didn’t think that this many people were going to come out here and support us today.”

Since Politico published a draft opinion by the Supreme Court on May 2, pro and anti-abortion advocates, elected officials, and the public have been grappling with the potential implications of an end to the court ruling that has upheld abortion access as a right for almost 50 years.

While recent polls suggest a majority of Americans support Roe v. Wade, 23 states have laws restricting or banning abortion that are currently in effect or that would take effect if the leaked opinion is finalized.

The tension surrounding the issue played out at Herndon High School when a counter-protest emerged in the middle of the group. Students leading the rally urged those advocates to leave.

Dowell said she hopes legislators and the government in general will pay attention to young voices. She and co-organizer Alissa Huq, also a 10th grader, worked with the student-led organization Generation Ratify Virginia, which is seeking ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, to lead their first rally.

The organization said it helped coordinate demonstrations at 45 schools across the state to demand federal and state measures that will codify Roe v. Wade, including the certification of the Equal Rights Amendment in the Constitution.

“I have engaged in countless conversations with students locally and throughout our state, and they long to have their voices respected and acknowledged in the fight for reproductive rights,” Generation Ratify Virginia Policy Director Felix Hedberg said in a statement. “It’s time to listen to youth…Generation Z is ready to capitalize on that attention to ensure Youngkin and Virginia Republicans won’t succeed in rewriting Virginia as a commonwealth against abortion access.”

According to Generation Ratify Virginia, other Fairfax County high schools that planned demonstrations yesterday included Centreville, Chantilly, James Madison, John R. Lewis, Langley, Marshall, McLean, Oakton, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, and W.T. Woodson.

Students at South Lakes High School in Reston were planning to participate as well, but their protest has been rescheduled for Thursday (May 12) “due to admin concerns,” Generation Ratify Virginia State Director Abby Garber told FFXnow.

Christa Anderson, a ninth grader at Herndon High, noted that corpses have rights and questioned how pregnant people’s liberties would compare if Roe v. Wade is rescinded. Her classmate Nora Blythe said the potential Supreme Court decision is upsetting but was glad to see the support of students there.

“It’s our future, and it’s going to affect us,” Dowell said. “I want to get that message out there.”

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Supreme Court (via SCOTUS)

News that the Supreme Court plans to overturn its landmark 1973 abortion-rights Roe v. Wade decision prompted a rush of support to at least one Fairfax County area abortion clinic and expressions of concern from many legislators representing the area.

The Supreme Court confirmed that a leaked draft opinion published on Monday (May 2) by Politico is authentic, adding that the document does not represent the “final position on any member on issues in the case.”

While the decision isn’t final, it’s already drawing cheers from abortion opponents and horror from reproductive justice advocates, who say a Roe v. Wade reversal will be particularly harmful for low-income people, people of color and other marginalized groups.

“If true, this opinion would be an all-out assault on a woman’s right to make choices about her own reproductive health,” U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-10th) said on Facebook. “I’m doing everything in my power to fight for the right to have an abortion.”

The Falls Church Healthcare Center has seen an outpouring of support from people wanting to volunteer, development director Mike Scheinberg said.

The private medical clinic provides abortions, gynecology and obstetrics services, counseling, and more. Less than 10% of the clinic’s patients come from out of state, but if Roe v. Wade is overturned, the health center likely would serve more such patients in the future, he said.

“Unfortunately and tragically, a decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is going to adversely [impact] mostly individuals who are pregnant people of color and those…who are not in great financial state,” Scheinberg said. “It discriminates against the poor.”

He said the possibility of curtailing abortion rights comes as little surprise, as many states, including Virginia, have put obstacles in place to limit access. The Commonwealth started requiring ultrasounds and 24-hour waiting periods in 2012, but the General Assembly repealed those measures in 2020.

Still, he said advocates are monitoring recent bills in the Commonwealth’s General Assembly.

“It’s unknown what will happen considering that our governor is a staunch opponent of abortion access,” Scheinberg said. Read More

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