The GOP-controlled Virginia House last week passed a resolution encouraging state residents to lower their flags on the anniversary of abortion care becoming legalized.
The resolution, HR 268, recognizes January 22, the anniversary of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, as a Day of Tears in Virginia to “mourn the innocents who have lost their lives to abortion.”
The Day of Tears resolution, which passed in a 57-36 vote on Wednesday, shares the same name as the Virginia-based anti-choice group that supported the resolution. Six delegates did not vote, and five Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the measure, the Richmond-Times Dispatch reported.
Del. Benjamin L. Cline (R-Rockbridge) introduced the legislation. Lawmakers adopted the bill a couple days after it advanced out of a house committee.
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Del. Charniele L. Herring (D-Alexandria), the House Democratic Caucus chairperson, panned the resolution in a phone interview with Rewire.
“The reality is that Roe is the law of this land and there are women who have been harmed irreparably by illegal abortions before the protections of Roe. It is the wrong message to send,” she said.
Herring, in a two-minute floor speech delivered Wednesday, said the Day of Tears resolution was “an insidious way to attack the dignity and privacy of women who have made a choice regarding their own life and health.”
“If tears must be shed, it should be for those women who irreparably harmed themselves, who faced hemorrhaging and infection because they lacked access to health care,” Herring said.
Herring told Rewire that the resolution was a “distraction” and not a good use of lawmakers’ time when they should be focusing on important matters like health-care access, education, and the economy. “It’s important that we keep our eyes focused on what the majority of Virginians are interested in,” she said.
Del. James M. LeMunyon (R-Fairfax), one of the Republicans who voted against the resolution, told the Times-Dispatch that despite his anti-choice views, he believes lowering flags should be reserved for other purposes, like honoring the nation’s military dead.
Anna Scholl, executive director of advocacy group Progress Virginia, told the Time-Dispatch that she urged the house committee to block the measure because it “oversteps government’s proper role.”
The resolution will not go the state senate or to Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat who has vowed to veto the unconstitutional 20-week abortion ban that Republicans recently introduced for the third consecutive year.