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Lisa Yost, wife of Republican Del. Joseph Yost, said James Harder's brochure about so-called "personhood" legislation crossed the line of political decency.
This is the cover of a brochure mailed from 12th District House of Delegates candidate James Harder's campaign.
This is Page 2 of a brochure mailed from 12th District House of Delegates candidate James Harder's campaign.
This is Page 3 of a brochure mailed from 12th District House of Delegates candidate James Harder's campaign.
This is Page 4 of a brochure mailed from 12th District House of Delegates candidate James Harder's campaign. The mailing address has been removed from the white space at the top of the image.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
A campaign brochure distributed in the New River Valley home turf of Republican Del. Joseph Yost of Pearisburg has outraged his family, with his wife calling it “a despicably personal attack.”
The mail piece authorized by House of Delegates challenger Democrat James Harder’s campaign claims that Yost “voted repeatedly for a plan that would force police to investigate women when they have a miscarriage.” Harder based the accusation on Yost’s 2012 vote for so-called “personhood” legislation, which stated that life begins at conception and would have given full legal protections to embryos.
The front of the brochure shows an image of a woman in a hospital bed beneath the headline “Joseph Yost Wants to Make a Hospital Room a CRIME SCENE.” The brochure was delivered to the Yosts’ mailbox on Saturday.
For Yost and his wife, Lisa, Harder’s attack was deeply personal. Lisa Yost has suffered two miscarriages in the past year.
“She broke down in tears for half the day on Saturday when she saw that,” Joseph Yost said Monday. “My mother broke down in tears.”
Yost, the General Assembly’s youngest member at 27, is seeking a second term representing the 12th District, which covers all of Giles County and Radford and parts of Montgomery and Pulaski counties.
In a statement released by Yost’s campaign, Lisa Yost said: “Any mother and father who has lost their child to miscarriage knows the pain, suffering and heartbreak can never be erased. In the past year, Joseph and I have twice experienced the joy and excitement of pregnancy, only to be followed by the devastation and agony of losing our child.
“In my entire life, I have never experienced more heartache and pain. To then see someone suggest that my husband would want to criminalize this experience not only hurts me, it also infuriates me.”
Lisa Yost called Harder’s attacks “disgraceful” and said the Democrat should apologize and drop out of the race.
Harder said he had not been aware of Lisa Yost’s miscarriages. But he stood by the mail piece in a telephone interview Monday afternoon, saying he believes the legislation could have had far-reaching implications for women, citing an analysis by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of personhood proposals.
“My heart goes out to the Yost family,” Harder said. “But I think it’s important that his legislative record is known by the voters of the 12th District.”
Harder has criticized Yost’s record on other women’s health issues, including the Republican’s support for a separate 2012 bill requiring women to submit to an ultrasound procedure before having an abortion. The ultrasound bill became law. The personhood bill passed the House but was defeated in the Senate.
“These laws are out of touch with our state and they’re certainly out of touch with the 12th District,” Harder said.
Abortion rights advocates assailed the failed “personhood” bill during the 2012 General Assembly session, a volatile session that was marked by heated debates and public protests over proposed abortion restrictions.
Abortion rights proponents argued that the personhood bill would lay the groundwork for banning abortions in all circumstances and restrict access to certain types of contraception. Some argued that it could allow for the prosecution of women who suffer miscarriages.
Yost said he would not have voted for the personhood bill if he thought it would subject victims of miscarriages to police investigations. Yost said he believes lawmakers addressed this issue by including the following clause in the bill:
“Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as creating a cause of action against a woman for indirectly harming her unborn child by failing to properly care for herself or by failing to follow any particular program of prenatal care.”
Yost said he supported the bill because it would have created a legal framework to penalize someone, such as a drunken driver, whose actions caused harm to an unborn child.
“It was very straightforward, very narrowly drawn in terms of what it can and cannot do,” Yost said.
State Republican Party Chairman Pat Mulling denounced the mail piece Monday, saying, “If any RPV [Republican] staffer had signed off on a mailer this offensive, this personal, they’d be out of a job. Period. There are lines that are not crossed in politics — and making false claims like this, and forcing people who have suffered an immense loss like this to live through it again in public is just one of them.”
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