A source familiar with the governor’s plans says that passing a 15-week abortion ban will be his legislative priority if Republicans win majority control of the state House and Senate in this fall’s elections.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin plans to enact a 15-week abortion ban in Virginia if Republicans win full control of the state legislature in November, according to sources familiar with his plans, NBC News reported.
Since the 2022 US Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade eliminated abortion rights protections nationally, Virginia has become the last state in the South without significant restrictions on reproductive freedom.
Currently, Virginia allows abortions up to 26 weeks and six days into a pregnancy — the first two trimesters — with exceptions in the third trimester if the woman’s health is at risk. In this year’s legislative session, the Democratic-majority state Senate prevented several abortion bans from passing, including one that would have limited abortion after 15 weeks.
While Youngkin clearly wants to focus on the 15-week abortion ban, he has announced publicly that he would be willing to enact bans that go much further.
“Any bill that comes to my desk I will sign happily and gleefully in order to protect life,” Youngkin vowed last June.
Banning abortions at 15 weeks of pregnancy presents a host of problems, especially for expectant mothers of 30 or older. These mothers are more likely to conceive fetuses with chromosomal abnormalities, and the test most commonly used to detect those disorders can only be performed after a pregnancy is 15 weeks along.
Additionally, some anatomical anomalies cannot be diagnosed until later in pregnancy. Older mothers are also more likely to enter pregnancy with health conditions that can worsen as gestation progresses and can require termination to save the woman’s life or prevent disability.
Democratic Sen. Aaron Rouse, whose focus on reproductive freedom helped him win a competitive special election in January, told NBC News, “[Republicans] want to continue to downplay and dismiss women’s rights and abortion rights, like women don’t have a voice. Women have been very loud and clear in the state of Virginia: Don’t touch my rights, my freedom, when it comes to making a really tough health care decision.”
All 40 state Senate seats and all 100 House of Delegates seats are on the ballot in November. Democrats currently have a two-seat edge in the Senate, and Republicans have a two-seat majority in the House. Many GOP candidates on the ballot this fall don’t even mention abortion on their campaign websites.
“[Republicans] have a lot of political positives they can be playing, but they get off their strength if they talk about the hot-button social and cultural issues, where most Virginia voters are not in alignment with the Republican positions, especially abortion,” Mark Rozell, the dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, recently told The New Republic.
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