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Virginia Republican Proposes Total Abortion Ban for State to Consider in January

Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has said abortion should be banned at 15 weeks—and this bill makes his proposal look "moderate" by comparison.

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Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R)
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R)
Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty (Getty Images)

In a bleak reminder that the fallout from the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade is nowhere near over, a lawmaker in Virginia has proposed a total abortion ban for the legislature to consider in January. Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) wants a ban on abortion at 15 weeks, and the public comparing these two options is very convenient for him.

Delegate Marie March (R) recently pre-filed House Bill 1395, which would define life as beginning at fertilization, thereby banning abortion and potentially even jeopardizing access to emergency contraception—because some conservatives wrongly believe Plan B is akin to abortion.

Virginia has two Democratic Senators, and the state has voted for the Democratic presidential nominee in every election since 2008. But Republicans took control of the House of Delegates in 2021, when the state elected Youngkin. The state senate remains in Democratic control, so it’s unclear whether an abortion ban could pass that chamber.

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As the advocacy organization Repro Rising Virginia has noted on social media, March’s bill performs the neat trick of making Youngkin’s proposal look “reasonable” by comparison. No abortion ban is reasonable, as every single one denies people their agency and puts their health and lives at risk.

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It’s not clear if March is working directly with Youngkin or just wants to shoot for the moon, but either way, her bill will definitely help his cause. On the day the Court overturned Roe, Youngkin said he would pursue a 15-week ban and that he’d asked four state lawmakers to propose legislation.

Abortion is currently available in Virginia through the end of the second trimester, or about 26 weeks, and after that if the pregnant person’s life or health is in danger. Either bill passing would be terrible news for Virginians, as well as people traveling to the state for care.

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The Virginia Reproductive Equity Alliance said of HB 1395 in a statement: “In the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and despite the vast majority of Virginians who oppose it, Virginia’s anti-abortion elected officials keep proving there are no limits to their extremism and true intentions to ban abortion for all Virginians.” (Repro Rising is one of the 13 VREA member organizations.)

Virginia’s legislature reconvenes starting on January 11, and it’s far from the only state that will be pursuing new limits on abortion in 2023 now that Roe’s protections are gone. Buckle up.