Republicans imposed a 24-hour-waiting period and mandatory ultrasounds for women seeking abortions in 2012 when they last controlled both branches of the General Assembly and the Executive Mansion.
Now that Democrats have locked down their own trifecta, party leaders have filed an array bills to roll those and other restrictions back.
“It’s a woman’s right to choose, period,” said Sen. Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax, who has filed legislation that would eliminate the ultrasound requirement, waiting period, requirement that women under age 18 obtain parental consent prior to a procedure and eliminate strict building-code requirements imposed on abortion clinics.
Likewise, Gov. Ralph Northam struck a defiant tone when he broached the topic in his annual state of the commonwealth address last week. “No more will legislators in Richmond — most of whom are men — be telling women what they should and should not be doing with their bodies,” he said. “It’s time to overturn these laws.”
One area where Democrats are treading lightly is late term abortions — the subject of a national fire-storm last year after Del. Kathy Tran, D-Fairfax, said during aggressive questioning during a committee hearing that her legislation would permit abortions “up to the moment of birth.” Outrage intensified a day later when Northam, a pediatric neurosurgeon, botched an attempt at explaining how doctors typically handle nonviable or severely deformed fetuses.
The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.