Just over an hour ago, the story broke that Delegate Cosgrove will be withdrawing the bill:
Legislation that would have required mothers who had failed to report fetal deaths to the police within 12 hours of the delivery to face a possible misdemeanor sentence will be withdrawn, its patron said on Monday.
"I've elected to withdraw HB 1677 from consideration by the General Assembly this year. The language is just too confusing," Del. John Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake, told The Augusta Free Press.
Cosgrove's surprise move came after a firestorm of controversy spread across the World Wide Web over the weekend about the possible far-reaching effects of the measure.
I don't know if there has ever been this kind of quick victory for citizen bloggers in impacting state legislation. Wow!
I received hundreds of emails a day about the story for the past three days. The story was picked up by TV news yesterday and was the lead story on a Richmond station last night. (Video available at link.)
You can read all the updates on the story at http://www.democracyforvirginia.com. Things have moved so quickly, I've barely had time to sleep much less post updates here at DailyKos!
This is entirely a victory of citizen bloggers, including many from the DailyKos community. Thanks to everyone who recommended the diary, commented, cross-posted to other blogs, and worked so hard to inform others about this story and do additional research on it.
If you live in Virginia and want to keep working like this on Virginia legislation, join the Democracy for Virginia Legislative Sentry email list! We've got MUCH more work ahead of us. But it's fantastic to start with a victory like this.<
Update [2005-1-11 2:29:21 by Maura in VA]:: The Virginian-Pilot has another story, "Del. Cosgrove pulls bill after Internet fuels fiery protest", with a few choice quotes:
Del. John A. Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake, was shaken by the speed and volume of the response as word of his bill traveled across the country via the Internet.
“I’ve never been blogged before,” he said. “The tone of the e-mails has been disgusting. It’s,'You’re a horrible person. You ought to be crucified.’ And those were the nice ones.”
Information about Cosgrove’s bill was first posted on a Virginia Web site, http://democracyforvirginia.typepad.com. Maura Keaney, a Falls Church woman and former volunteer for Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean, uses the site to monitor state government and political issues.
Keaney said Monday her site had received about 70,000 hits in the previous 24 hours, and that information about the bill was picked up by more than 100 blogs, including Web sites for women who have suffered miscarriages. A check of computer search engines Monday found 155 links to discussions about the bill.
Cosgrove said he spent the weekend responding to all 500-plus e-mails he received from people as far away as California and Texas. The original Web site that raised the alarm also posted his response to criticisms.
“They’ve been fairly responsive, but they never talked to me prior to going on the Web,” he said. “I was absolutely mistreated on this.”
Keaney said she tried to contact Cosgrove but posted her report after waiting three days without a response...
Rem Rieder, editor of American Journalism Review, said the blog phenomenon has both positive and negative consequences.
“It’s certainly a way of stimulating participation in the political process. It’s a way to get involved instantly,” he said. “But the potential for bullying and intimidation is there. You wouldn’t want people to not be putting in bills because they’d be flogged by blogs. And it can be a way of spreading misinformation or distorted information quickly. Blogs, while they are fascinating, are not journalism.”
Jeff South, a mass communications professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, said the blogs proved beneficial for Cosgrove’s bill.
“The bloggers pointed out, to me, some legitimate concerns,” South said. “They created a healthy discussion. If there’s a down side, it was that Del. Cosgrove didn’t have a chance to get involved in the debate until it was too late.”
It's funny how journalists always get someone to give the quote saying that "bloggers aren't journalists". But then the stories are slanted to criticize how blogging is not journalism. No, I didn't wait to talk to Delegate Cosgrove before I went ahead with the story. Who knows whether he would ever have paid any attention to my original email if he hadn't gotten all the atention he later received? Was I under ethical obligation to present "his side" of the story?
Ultimately, the argument was never with Cosgrove or his intent. His stated intent is interesting context for this kind of blogging, I think, but ultimately I think we need to be primarily concerned with the content of legislation, not just the backstory of legislator intent.
What do you think?