Virginia GOP Once Again Pushing Unconstitutional 20-Week Abortion Ban

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Virginia GOP Once Again Pushing Unconstitutional 20-Week Abortion Ban

Michelle D. Anderson

All three sponsors of the new unconstitutional 20-week ban have received a zero rating in NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia’s most recent legislative report card.

Virginia Delegate David LaRock (R-Loudon) has once again introduced a bill that would unconstitutionally ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

LaRock on Monday pre-filed HB 1473, also known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The bill shares the same name as HB 963 and HB 2321, which were similar failed measures LaRock introduced in the past two legislative sessions.

The latest version of the abortion ban, like its predecessors, would only allow exceptions if the pregnant person is at risk of death or “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including psychological or emotional conditions.”

HB 1473 would otherwise require the physician terminating pregnancies allowed under the exception to do so “in the manner that in reasonable medical judgment provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive.” The state’s previous 20-ban proposals included a nearly identical proposal.

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Those found violating the law could face a Class 4 felony conviction, which in Virginia includes a prison term of up to ten years and a maximum fine of $100,000.

To date, Republican Delegates Richard “Dickie” Bell (R-Staunton) and Mark Cole (R-Fredericksburg) have co-sponsored the bill.

Pro-choice Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) vetoed an effort to defund Planned Parenthood in March.

Virginia has in place a 24-hour waiting period, and pregnant people are forced to receive an ultrasound and anti-choice counseling before receiving abortion care, according to the Guttmacher Institute. People younger than 18 don’t have access to the medical procedure without their parents’ permission.

All three sponsors of the new unconstitutional 20-week ban have received a zero rating in NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia’s most recent legislative report card.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a virulently anti-choice Republican, signed a similar 20-week ban this week and vetoed a total abortion ban that breezed through the state’s GOP-majority legislature.

The Virginia House of Delegates will convene again next month. More legislation can be filed until January 11, when the state’s pre-filing deadline ends.