With crossover approaching, there is limited time for anti-abortion bills to be considered in the House and Senate. The General Assembly must act on bills by February 15 in their originating chamber.
Anti-Abortion Bills Likely in House Courts Committee This Wednesday
This past Friday, the House Courts of Justice Subcommittee #4 considered two anti-abortion bills and reported those bills to the full committee on a 5-3 partisan vote. The House Courts of Justice committee has yet to docket three anti-abortion bills in subcommittee or full committee, which means they must be heard this Wednesday or Friday in order to move forward. The House Courts Committee released their agenda for today, Monday, February 7, and it does not have any of the anti-abortion bills on the docket.
See video of Friday’s subcommittee testimony. The anti-abortion bills were the first considered.
Senate Education and Health to Defeat 20-week Abortion Ban on Thursday
The Senate Education and Health Committee has been holding strong in defeating efforts to roll back recent progress, and plan to continue up until committees finish meeting. After crossover, they will have to address the House bills that come their way. The only anti-abortion bill that is still up for possible debate is SB710 (20-week abortion ban). This bill received a partisan, tied 4-4 vote in the Senate Education and Health’s Health Professions subcommittee on Friday morning, and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia will work to defeat in full Senate and Education where Democrats hold a 9-6 majority this Thursday morning.
See video of Friday morning’s subcommittee testimony. At 21:10 there is testimony from a Virginian who urged senators to “vote against this bill that would have made my experience, and all people who have stories just like mine, so much more difficult.”
Abortion Legislation to Watch
HB212 (Greenhalgh): This bill reinstates mandated biased counseling as part of informed consent before an abortion, and was reported out of the House Courts of Justice subcommittee on Friday on a partisan 5-3 vote. This bill puts politicians in the middle of private medical decisions that should be left to each patient and their medical provider. Several medical professionals and members of the public testified against the bill on Friday.
HB304 (Freitas): This so-called "born alive" legislation was also heard in the House Courts of Justice subcommittee on Friday afternoon and reported to the full committee on a partisan 5-3 vote. Bills like this are completely unnecessary. Medical professionals are already obligated to provide appropriate medical care. To suggest otherwise is false, offensive, and dangerous. In several states, governors have rejected this type of bill for what it is – another attempt to eliminate access to abortion. In 2019, governors in North Carolina, Montana, and Wisconsin vetoed similar bills. [Delegate Wililams introduced the same legislation as HB776, but it hasn’t been docketed.]
SB710 (Chase): This bill would establish a 20-week abortion ban. It was heard Friday morning in the Senate Education and Health Health Professions subcommittee. Dr. Ramesh of the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood and an abortion patient gave powerful testimony on the dangers of this bill. The subcommittee voted to report on a 4Y-4N vote, which means the decision is up to the full committee. The Health subcommittee has 4 Democrats and 4 Republicans. The full Senate Education and Health committee will meet next Thursday. The full committee has 9 Democrats and 6 Republicans.
HB983 (P. Scott): This bill reinstates an obstacle course of restrictions repealed by the Reproductive Health Protection Act (24-hour waiting period, mandatory ultrasound, TRAP, physician-only, biased counseling) and includes a reason ban. No other medical decision is treated with the same level of political intrusion, and these decisions should be left in the hands of patients and medical professionals. This bill has yet to be docketed.
HB1274 (Freitas): This bill would establish a 20-week abortion ban. Banning abortion after 20 weeks denies a person the fundamental right to control their own body and health care decisions. The goal of this ban, as with all abortion bans, is to stop people from accessing essential health care and to take away people’s power over their own bodies, their lives, and their futures. This bill has yet to be docketed.
Virginians Support Legal Abortion
Support for abortion remains high. Polling found that 79 percent of Virginians support legal abortion. But, under the control of anti-abortion legislators, states will continue to attempt to ban abortion outright. Without the protections enshrined in Roe v. Wade, Virginians’ right to bodily autonomy lay at the mercy of our General Assembly.
Quote from Jamie Lockhart:
“Despite what Speaker Todd Gilbert said immediately following the election about Republicans not focusing on abortion, he is leading a Republican caucus who is advancing a number of extreme bills to restrict access to safe, legal abortion.
Virginians will hold House Republicans accountable for their support of an abortion ban and other anti-abortion bills that stop people from accessing essential health care and take away people’s power over their own bodies, their lives, and their futures.”
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia (PPAV) is a statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to preserve and broaden access to reproductive health care through legislation, public education, electoral activity and litigation in the Commonwealth of Virginia. PPAV works to ensure that individuals and families have the freedom, information, and ability to make their own informed reproductive choices.