Virginia Democrats aim to roll back abortion regulations

Capitol Connection

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Democrats are taking bold steps on a number of social issues this session. Abortion is no exception.

This week was the 47th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. As many states try to take advantage of the court’s conservative majority to roll back abortion rights, the General Assembly appears to be moving in the opposite direction.

Virginia’s new Democratic majority is pushing back a decade of Republican abortion regulations.

Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) calls requiring an ultrasound before an abortion, in most cases, useless. A bill she’s sponsoring would scrap the requirement and allow more medical professionals to do the procedure in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

“This bill is about putting reproductive healthcare back in the patient’s hands and not in the hands of politicians,” McClellan told 8News. “These were put in place to enact barriers to women exercising her constitutional right to abortion care. They’re not medically necessary.”

Republican Delegate Kathy Byron (Bedford) begs to differ.

“There have been many lives that have been saved since these regulations have been put into place,” she said.

Byron carried the bill that requires clinics be held to the same standard as hospitals if they perform five or more abortions. New legislation proposed by Democrats would repeal that condition.

Jackee Gonzalez of the Family Foundation says public opinion is on their side, citing a recent survey that suggests a majority of Americans support some abortion restrictions.

“This is a surgical procedure they should have the same regulations that are in place as other surgical procedures,” Gonzalez told 8News. “If a woman is going to choose to have an abortion, don’t you want that woman to have an abortion in a safe environment?”

The bill sponsored by McClellan cleared committee and is expected to reach the Senate floor early next week.

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