In Virginia, abortion regulations remain unchanged for now
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Advocates on both sides of the abortion issue are gearing up for a political fight at the Virginia Statehouse.
“This is about who has power over you. Who has the authority to make decisions for you, and who is going to control your future,” said Tarina Keene, REPRO Rising VA.
The earliest lawmakers could take up the issue is Sept. 7, but only if Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin gets involved. Those are the rules for the one-day housekeeping session.
The next time would be in January during the regular session.
“The only thing standing between Virginians and a lot of abortion restrictions is the one-vote majority for Democrats in the state senate,” said Larry Sabato, UVA Center for Politics.
Friday afternoon, Youngkin signaled he would support a 15-week threshold for abortions in the state.
He’s assembled a team of conservative lawmakers to help. Senator Siobhan Dunnavant, Senator Steve Newman, Delegate Kathy Byron and Delegate Margaret Ransone are tasked with finding consensus on legislation.
Governor Youngkin’s office says he’s willing to find compromise up to the 20 weeks mark. Youngkin has repeatedly said he supports exceptions for rape, incest or if the mother’s life is at risk.
In Virginia, abortions are legal through the second trimester, a little over 26 weeks. The procedure is legal in the third trimester if it involves the life or health of the mother.
Earlier this year, House Republicans tried to pass a 20-week abortion ban, but it ultimately failed.
“There’s a considerable decrease in support for abortion in the second trimester, but where it really craters is in the third trimester,” said Rich Anderson, Republican Party of Virginia Chairman.
Pro-life Democrat State Senator Joe Morrissey remains a deciding factor.
“One of the considerations has got to be fetal pain. If a fetus can feel pain, that may be the marker where you, up to where an abortion is allowed. And whether that’s 20 or 20 plus weeks, we need to, all the legislators need to hear scientific evidence,” said Sen. Morrissey during an interview in May.
In April, Youngkin took to the streets for the 4th annual March for Life, the first state governor to do that.
Last July, a liberal activist released a video of then-candidate Youngkin saying he has to limit his anti-abortion comments on the campaign trail for fear of alienating voters.
“When I’m governor, and I have a majority in the House, we can start going on offense,” said Youngkin during that recording.
“Well, he’ll have a chance to prove it or disprove it. Was he telling the truth then? Probably. My guess is he’ll submit whatever he thinks can pass in terms of anti-abortion rights legislation,” said Larry Sabato, UVa Center for Politics.
REPRO Rising Virginia says abortion rights should be codified into state law. The group wants the question on the ballot so voters, not lawmakers, can decide. The earliest that could happen is 2023.
Copyright 2022 WWBT. All rights reserved.
Want NBC12’s top stories in your inbox each morning? Subscribe here.