RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — More than a thousand people gathered on Capitol Square Thursday for the March for Life rally.
This is the second year in a row pro-life advocates have rallied in downtown Richmond but this time the stakes were higher. That’s because Democratic majorities in the House and Senate have already passed bills to roll back more than a decade of Republican-led abortion regulations. The bills still have a few more steps before they’re expected to become law.
“This is wrong and we need to vote in a way that honors life,” said Todd Yoder, who made the trip from Churchville, Virginia to attend the rally.
Democrats are supporting bills that remove mandatory ultrasounds and the 24-hour waiting period. Jamie Lockhart, the executive director for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, said logistical issues and lack of access to providers often delay the procedure for longer than one day. She said women can still decide to take these steps in their decision-making process but these bills get the government out of the way.
“A decision to have an abortion should be made between a woman and those she loves and trusts, not by the General Assembly,” Lockhart said.
Republicans argue these requirements give women the time and the tools they need to change their minds. Destiny Kuhlman shared her experience with the crowd. “Because of the 24 hour waiting period and the ultrasound requirement, my son is alive today,” she said.
Chandra Jarrett said she wouldn’t have gone through with getting an abortion at 20 weeks if she had seen an ultrasound.
“It effects you emotionally and physically and mentally and spiritually,” she said. “It is traumatizing and when God healed me I said I would be a voice for life.”
Additionally, pro-life advocates are concerned about provisions that would let more medical professionals perform abortions in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy if it’s within their practice. The bill also removes rules on abortion clinics that perform five or more first trimester abortions per month. Current law requires they meet the same regulatory standards as hospitals.
Critics of the bill say removing these restrictions will make the procedure less safe.
“These regulations are purely political. They’re not there for health and safety,” Lockhart argued.
The Family Foundation, Virginia Society for Human Life and the Virginia Catholic Conference organized Thursday’s rally.
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