RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia lawmakers and state leaders from both sides of the aisle are reacting to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade that ends constitutional protections for abortion after nearly 50 years.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) said in a statement Friday that he has asked four Republican state lawmakers to join his administration to “bring together legislators and advocates from across the Commonwealth on this issue to find areas where we can agree and chart the most successful path forward” and to be ready to introduce legislation when the General Assembly returns next year.
“The Supreme Court of the United States has rightfully returned power to the people and their elected representatives in the states. I’m proud to be a pro-life Governor and plan to take every action I can to protect life,” Youngkin said in his statement. “The truth is, Virginians want fewer abortions, not more abortions. We can build a bipartisan consensus on protecting the life of unborn children, especially when they begin to feel pain in the womb, and importantly supporting mothers and families who choose life.
“That’s why I’ve asked Senator Siobhan Dunnavant, Senator Steve Newman, Delegate Kathy Byron and Delegate Margaret Ransone to join us in an effort to bring together legislators and advocates from across the Commonwealth on this issue to find areas where we can agree and chart the most successful path forward. I’ve asked them to do the important work needed and be prepared to introduce legislation when the General Assembly returns in January.”
Virginia’s two U.S. senators, Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both released statements responding to the opinion moments after it was made public.
“I am deeply disturbed that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, upsetting decades of precedent protecting the right of women to make fundamental personal decisions about contraception and abortion without unnecessary government interference,” Sen. Kaine said in his statement. “That’s why I’ve been engaged in efforts in the Senate to codify the basic framework of Roe v. Wade and related cases into federal law. We’re not going to give up on the fight to protect the right to choose.”
Sen. Warner’s statement reads as follows:
“This decision jeopardizes the health and autonomy of millions of American women and turns back the clock on nearly 50 years of settled and reaffirmed law – reflecting a Court that has increasingly issued politicized rulings that undermine the fundamental rights of Americans. This decision will take control over personal health care decisions away from individuals and give it to politicians in state legislatures across the country. I am heartbroken for the generations of women who now have fewer rights than when they were born, many of whom will be forced into life-threatening or prohibitively expensive circumstances to access health care as a result of this radical decision. For them and for all Virginians and Americans, I will continue working to protect needed access to safe, legal abortion.”Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia
The office of Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, a Republican, also issued a statement shortly after the ruling came down.
“Today the Supreme Court ruled that the issue of abortion should not be decided by unelected federal judges, but by the people of the States through their elected representatives,” the Virginia Attorney General’s Office said in a statement. “Good and reasonable people can disagree on this issue but now Virginians, not federal judges, can decide its future.”
Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), who represents Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, said she strongly disagrees with the majority decision because it will undermine “the right to privacy and a woman’s right to choose.”
“Rather than punish America’s women, lawmakers must stand with them. And rather than pursue extreme new laws, our elected officials must remember their obligation to protect our basic rights,” Spanberger said in a statement. “Today is a dark day, but it cannot be the end of our efforts.”
Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.), Virginia’s 4th Congressional District representative, called the majority opinion “a devastating and unacceptable attack on constitutionally protected freedoms.”
Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears (R) applauded the Supreme Court for shifting the authority on abortions to state legislatures, calling the Roe v. Wade ruling “an example of judicial and federal overreach.”
“I look forward to working with the Governor and the General Assembly in the next legislative session on legislation that respects life,” Lt. Gov. Earle-Sears said in a statement.
This story is developing. Check back for updates.