Update on Abortion Legislation Before Virginia General Assembly
For Immediate Release: Feb. 8, 2023
Yesterday was crossover, the deadline for the General Assembly to act on bills in their originating chamber. Below is information about bills that passed either the House or Senate that PPAV will be tracking during the second half of the 2023 legislative session.
No Abortion Bans Advanced
In a major victory for reproductive freedom, none of the abortion bans introduced in the House or Senate passed, meaning this legislative session will end without a single abortion ban reaching Governor Youngkin’s desk. Senate Education and Health defeated three abortion bans on January 26 and none of the various abortion bans introduced in the House of Delegates, including the 15-week abortion ban championed by Governor Youngkin, received committee consideration. We know Virginians overwhelmingly oppose abortion bans, and it’s clear that Speaker Todd Gilbert did not want his vulnerable incumbents to be on the record supporting an abortion ban.
Jamie Lockhart, Executive Director, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia:
“When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and ended federal protection for abortion, it made clear that the fight to protect those rights now lies in the states. The Virginia Senate kept its word and defeated each and every attempt to ban abortion this session, sending the proposals right where they belong: into the trash.
Because of the will of Virginians and the work of dedicated advocates, Governor Youngkin couldn’t realize his dangerous, out-of-touch anti-abortion agenda. Still, we know that Youngkin and his extremist allies won’t stop here — they want to ban abortion entirely. But together we can’t be defeated, and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia vows to keep up our fight against any future attempts to infringe upon our reproductive rights. We encourage legislators to pass a constitutional amendment to protect reproductive freedom to safeguard our rights once and for all.”
Legislation to Watch
Bills to Restrict Access to Care or Stigmatize Abortion (Moving from House to Senate)
HB2270 (Greenhalgh): This bill would reinstate mandated biased counseling before an abortion, forcing providers to give patients medically inaccurate information and threatening them with criminal penalties. This bill, which passed the House on a party-line vote of 52-47 on February 7, is another attempt to shame and stigmatize patients, and it puts politicians in the middle of private medical decisions that should be left to each patient and their health care provider. The Senate defeated similar legislation in 2022.
HB1795 (Freitas): So-called “born alive” bills like this one peddle misinformation about abortion to address a made-up problem. These deceptive and deliberately misleading bills are nothing more than scare tactics used to further stigmatize abortion. Medical professionals are already obligated to provide appropriate medical care — to suggest otherwise is false, offensive, and dangerous. This bill passed the House on a party-line vote of 52-47 on February 7. The Senate defeated similar legislation in 2022.
HB2476 (Durant): This legislation directs the Secretary of Health and Human Resources and the State Health Commissioner to establish a website that provides information about public and private agencies, services, and programs available to pregnant women, including information about crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs). CPCs are anti-abortion organizations that claim to help pregnant people, but actually coerce, deceive, and manipulate patients in an attempt to dissuade them from getting abortion care. CPCs are known to have provided pregnant people and minors with biased and inaccurate information and purposely misled them into thinking that they were obtaining actual health care. This bill passed the House on a party-line vote of 52-47 on February 7.
Bills to Expand Access to Reproductive Health Care and Protect Health Care Providers (Moving from Senate to House)
SJ255 (McClellan and Boysko): This amendment would give Virginians the opportunity to vote directly on whether they believe their reproductive freedom should be protected in the Virginia Constitution and ensure that politicians cannot take our commonwealth backwards by restricting or even banning essential reproductive health. The amendment passed the Senate on February 7 by a vote of 21 - 18. A similar amendment was introduced in the House of Delegates by Delegate Charniele Herring (HJ519) but was passed by indefinitely (defeated) by a House Courts of Justice Subcommittee on January 30.
SB1112 (Hashmi): Known as the Contraceptive Equity Act, this legislation aligns Virginia Code with existing federal law and eliminates the burden of insurance co-pays and coverage delays for prescription contraceptive drugs and devices. This legislation is intended to remove barriers to contraceptive access and ensure that Virginians have access to this critical health care. The bill passed the Senate on a bipartisan vote of 26-13. A similar bill was introduced by Delegate King (HB2089) in the House but was laid on the table (defeated) by House Energy and Commerce subcommittee #4 by a vote of 5-1.
SB852 (Favola): This bill says that no search warrant shall be issued to search and seize a device to access menstrual health data. The bill passed the Senate on February 7 by a vote of 31 - 9.
SB1243 (Surovell): This bill aims to protect health care providers in Virginia by stating they cannot be extradited to another state for providing legal health care in Virginia. The bill passed the Senate on February 7 by a vote of 23 - 17.
Virginians Support Legal Abortion
The vast majority of Virginians want to keep abortion safe and legal. A recent poll from The Watson Center at Christopher Newport University found that 72% of Virginians want our abortion laws to stay the same or be less restrictive. Without the federal protections of Roe v. Wade, Virginians’ right to abortion is at the mercy of our General Assembly.
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