Banning Abortion Is Bad For Women.
It’s Bad For Virginia Business, Too.

Hi — I'm Sheila, a blogger from Virginia. Well, actually I’m the chief stenographer for the fascinating felines who opine at My Cats Are Democrats. If I knew how to purr, I’d do it in The Rude Pundit’s direction — for giving me space to point out that the Republicans are terrible in ways we perhaps haven’t yet dreamed.

On top of all the havoc that Republicans are wreaking on our Constitutional rights, healthcare and lives, damage to the business world is the other destructive legacy that’s sure to result from the GOP’s war on women.

And it’s definitely going to be something that our now-scandal-tarred governor, “Transvaginal Bob” McDonnell, and his anti-choice, anti-fun-sex-even-between-married-people attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, will leave the Commonwealth of Virginia. Here’s how.

First, a little background: Virginia is really two states — the blue one that Barack Obama carried twice, and the red one that the Republicans and teabaggers are in charge of down in Richmond.

Virginia is the populous, ethnically diverse Washington suburbs, which stretch into Prince William County, where I live. And it’s also the state of Liberty and Regent Universities, of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, of Gadsden flag and "choose life" license plates, and gun shows at the county fairgrounds.

But it’s not going to stay that way.

The Republicans here are, as in other states, demographically doomed. (Heck, even Liz Cheney is abandoning us.) Commonwealth-wide, Virginia is purple and trending blue. Regent Law School grad Bob McDonnell knew that, which is why he downplayed his right-wing Christian background and ran for his constitutionally limited single term as a business-friendly non-ideologue à la Mark Warner or Tim Kaine.

But that was then, this is now. Today, we have McDonnell-mandated ultrasounds, and Cuccinelli-coerced abortion-clinic building standards. (A women’s clinic in Fairfax is Cootchy’s latest victim.) These new laws are sapping women’s healthcare resources, cutting them off from necessary services, and, of course, stomping on their Constitutional rights. And I’m convinced that Virginia corporations with active recruitment efforts and well-crafted succession plans are secretly very unhappy about it.

See, Virginia is home to some pretty big industries — like agriculture, tobacco, shipbuilding, tourism, banking, consulting, healthcare, finance and tech — and celebrated “best employers” like Accenture, Booz Allen Hamilton, Capital One and Deloitte.

Important companies like those are constantly chasing high-quality talent from around the country, and competition is fierce. Too many employers are pursuing too few highly skilled executive/management candidates, especially in fields like IT, finance and engineering. And with times so tough for recruiting, Republicans in states like Virginia — by passing anti-abortion, anti-family-planning, and anti-women’s-healthcare legislation — are making it even harder.

That’s because Republicans are balkanizing America — turning it into a bunch of states you want to live in because you can pursue happiness in them, and a bunch of states that you don’t because you can’t. States where you can terminate a pregnancy, get a contraceptive, marry whom you love, stay safer from guns, rely on a social safety net, vote without a hassle, and have your kids learn science in school — and states where you can’t. States with a good quality of life, and states without.

A few years back, an executive recruiter cold-called my husband with a job opportunity. It was a great job, she said, located in a city in America’s heartland. He turned her down flat — wouldn’t even interview for it, because the state in which it was located had, thanks to Republicans, gone off the political deep end. (And he felt this way even though we had long since passed the stage that Jeb Bush would describe as “fertile.”)

The recruiter was surprised and puzzled. I assume that she no longer is. Because since that time, Republicans have only gotten worse, creating right-wing Siberias where no smart, clear-thinking American will ever want to move — states like Texas, North Carolina and Kansas, or even Ohio and Wisconsin.

The Old Dominion, unfortunately, has joined that list. What ambitious and progressively minded young woman (or young man, or young couple) would want to take a job in Virginia, when McDonnell and Cuccinelli have openly vowed to “make abortion disappear”? That means making women’s healthcare disappear. But abortions will not go away. The women who may need them will — especially up-and-coming professionals who refuse to live somewhere they have no rights.

What will it take for Virginia businesses to speak up? Sadly, not because the state is forcing itself into our doctors’ offices. They’ll start screaming when enough talented people tell recruiters who want them to live and work here, “Hell, no, I won’t go.” When a CEO in another part of the country announces to his employees that they’re relocating to, say, Norfolk, Virginia Beach or Richmond, and his best workers quit rather than move.

Are you one of those talented women whose skills Virginia businesses crave? If so, the economic power is in your hands. Please think about using it.

Meanwhile, Virginia Republicans heedlessly, obliviously bash on. Their candidates for statewide office this fall are living proof. Vote for them, and you’ll be electing: 1) Cootchy governor, 2) an attorney general candidate who thinks women who have miscarriages should be reported to the police (just in case they’re having self-induced illegal abortions), and 3) a maniac for lieutenant governor who says Planned Parenthood is a hate group and who makes Cuccinelli look like a flaming lefty.

The GOP war on women is giving my state’s business community a long, slow heart attack. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But soon. I promise.

(IMAGE: The seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in all its half-naked glory. Don't tell Cootchy!)