Unsplash/Gayatri Malhotra gayatri-malhotra-Q2j_Va4g8FM-unsplash
Unsplash/Gayatri Malhotra

Several anti-abortion rights bills have been introduced in Virginia for 2023’s legislative session. Here’s a breakdown.

On Jan. 11,  Gov. Glenn Youngkin took to the floor of the Virginia House of Delegates to deliver his State of the Commonwealth address, and he used the platform to continue to push his anti-abortion rights agenda—something Virginia Republicans have made a top priority for 2023. 

Youngkin has been pushing his proposed ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy since the summer, and in his address on Wednesday, he did the same. 

The governor has also said that he’s willing to go further: in June at a gathering shortly after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Youngkin said he believes life begins at conception and said he would “gleefully” sign “any bill [to protect life] that comes” to his desk.

But Youngkin isn’t the only Virginia lawmaker who’s going after reproductive rights: Del. Kathy Byron and Sen. Steve Newman, both Republicans, introduced identical bills in both chambers on Wednesday. The bill would make it a felony for doctors to perform abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Lawmakers on both sides of the political spectrum say that the bill has little chance of passing with a Democratic-majority state Senate–a majority that was expanded earlier this week when Democrat Aaron Rouse prevailed in Tuesday’s special election to represent District 7 following Republican Jen Kiggans’ election to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Republican Del. Marie March has also introduced House Bill 1395, which would establish that life begins at conception, making abortion illegal in the commonwealth and potentially impacting the ability of women to use the birth control method of their choice. Republican Rep. Amanda Chase also introduced a bill that would establish that life begins at conception. And Republican Del. John McGuire has introduced House Bill 1488, which seeks to strip away provisions that authorize the use of state funds to pay for qualifying abortions in cases of rape, incest, and totally incapacitating physical deformities or mental deficiencies. Finally, House Bill 1795, introduced by Republican Del. Nicholas Freitas, unnecessarily mandates that doctors, in the incredibly rare case in which a fetus survives an abortion procedure, provide medical care for the fetus after it is born (which they already are and have always been required to do). Freitas is also pushing a bill that allows pregnant drivers to count as two passengers for HOV/HOT lane purposes, reinforcing his clear contempt for reproductive freedom.

While Virginia Republicans have made restricting abortion access a top priority this legislative session, Democrats have called for the right to abortion to be enshrined in the state’s constitution