Gov. Youngkin to seek 15-week abortion law in Virginia

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Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (right) said he would seek to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, acting quickly after the US Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday overturning the constitutional right to abortion ‘abortion.

Youngkin asked four Virginia lawmakers — all anti-abortion Republicans — to draft legislation, and he said setting the deadline at 20 weeks might be necessary to elicit more consensus in a divided Capitol. He said he supported exceptions for rape, incest and where the mother’s life is in danger.

“Virginians want fewer abortions rather than more abortions,” Youngkin said Friday morning in a meeting with Washington Post reporters, editors and columnists, moments after the decision was overturned. of the court. Roe vs. Wade was announced. “I’m not someone who’s going to step in and try to separate us… There’s a place where we can come together.”

Youngkin said he would like to see abortion banned the moment a fetus feels pain. He acknowledged that there is consensus in Congress and elsewhere that the pain threshold exists at 20 weeks pregnant, but said he would prefer to aim for a 15-week law.

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Although he emphasized his personal opposition to abortion, Youngkin said he recognizes that there is a range of beliefs in Virginia and acknowledged that 20 weeks could end up being a compromise point. “I also represent all Virginians,” he said. But, he added, “I believe where we should be able to go is a pain threshold of 15 weeks.”

This would be similar to recent laws passed in Florida and Mississippi.

Abortion is legal in Virginia during the first and second trimesters of a pregnancy, a schedule that has been in place during years of Republican and Democratic control in the General Assembly.

The procedure is only allowed in the third trimester if life or health is seriously threatened, as attested by three doctors. Parental authorization is required for minors wishing to terminate a pregnancy. Public funding of abortions is only permitted for low-income women in cases of rape or incest, if life or health is in danger, or if the fetus has “incapacitating” physical or mental impairments.

Youngkin asked two state senators and two delegates to work on the legislation. They are Senator Siobhan Dunnavant (Henrico), an obstetrician; Senator Steve Newman (Bedford); Of the. Kathy Byron (Lynchburg) and Del. Margaret Ransone (R-Westmoreland).

In 2012, Byron sponsored a bill that, as originally proposed, would have required most women seeking an abortion to undergo a vaginal ultrasound first. After an outcry over the invasive nature of the test, the bill was amended to require an abdominal ultrasound, which in most cases would not provide a picture because most abortions take place early in pregnancy, when the fetus is too small to be detected with this. test. The bill became law but was repealed, along with a host of other abortion restrictions, after Democrats took full control of Richmond in 2020.

When it was suggested that Youngkin’s effort could disappoint some conservatives who may want further restrictions, he said he was realistic about the political timing. Republicans control the House of Delegates and Democrats control the Senate, and any legislation presented to the General Assembly when it convenes in January would have to be passed by both houses.

“We have a process in Virginia to go through,” Youngkin said. “I’m a pro-life governor, I’m also very, very aware of Virginia. … A governor cannot do it alone. And it’s going to take… work down the aisle. And so we have to work over the next few months to find a place where we can land.

He likened this political reality to his efforts to pass a gas tax exemption, which was repeatedly defeated by the state Senate. “I believe we should have a three month gas tax holiday. And I can’t convince the Senate to do that. And at the end of the day, one of the things that I strongly believe government needs to do is deliver results and I need to deliver results,” Youngkin said.

The Governor’s Security Service cut short its scheduled 45-minute session with the Post’s editorial board once news of the High Court’s decision broke, kicking Youngkin out halfway through. He said he had work to do to help maintain order and safety in Virginia as protests began to take shape against the court’s decision.

“We will protect people’s rights to express their displeasure or support,” Youngkin said. “And so if people want to come together and protest or demonstrate, we are going to protect that right today. And we will also protect the property. We’re going to protect security… We’re going to have zero tolerance for violations.

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