On the last day before bills crossover between the House and the Senate for this General Assembly session, the House of Delegates passed H.B. 1 a bill granting personhood status and rights to fertilized eggs by a vote of 66-32.
The House also passed a bill to force women to have an ultrasound — and potentially an invasive transvaginal ultrasound — 24 hours before an abortion regardless of if it is medically necessary or if a woman wants it. This bill, H.B. 462, passed by a vote of 63-36.
We are severely disappointed that the anti-choice majority in the House of Delegates has put their ideological agenda and political concerns above women’s rights and health yet again. What’s worse is the disregard that anti-choice lawmaker show for the real impact these bills would have on women’s lives. We’ll continue to fight these and other anti-choice bills passed by the House as they move over to the Senate side.
Read our full press statement after the jump:
Today, the House of Delegates approved Delegate Bob Marshall’s (R-Prince William) so called “personhood” bill by a 66-32 vote.
The bill’s intent is similar to the recently defeated Mississippi ballot amendment that 58% of voters rejected. H.B. 1 would ban birth control and abortion upon the overturning of any U.S. Supreme Court precedent that protects a women’s constitutional right to privacy.
“The General Assembly is dangerously close to making Virginia the first state in the country to grant personhood rights to fertilized eggs,” said Tarina Keene, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. She continued, “With the word “person” appearing more than 25,000 times in the Virginia code, single-minded legislators are about to run this Commonwealth off a cliff as well as eradicating women’s health and rights.”
“This legislation is ill-conceived and has far-reaching and unforeseen consequences on tax, property and probate laws as well as interfering with a doctors’ ability to treat miscarriages. Its true intent, of course, is to ban abortion and the most commonly used FDA approved methods of birth control,” said Keene. “Research shows that over 1.5 million women use some form of contraception in the Commonwealth today. This is a major misstep by anti-choice legislators who misunderstand Virginian’s values and priorities. Voters will hold them accountable.”
The House of Delegates also passed a mandatory ultrasound bill – H.B. 462 – patroned by Delegate Kathy Byron (R-Bedford). Pro-choice legislators argued that because most abortions occur prior to 12 weeks gestation, an invasive transvaginal ultrasound would be required to see the fetus or hear the heartbeat. Supporters, such as Del. Todd Gilbert (R – Shenandoah) were not swayed. Del. Gilbert went so far as to say that government should be allowed to mandate this invasive procedure because abortion is only a matter of “lifestyle convenience.”
Keene said, “This bill and comments on the House floor show the disrespect anti-choice lawmakers have for women’s personal and private reproductive decisions made with their doctors and their families.”
“This bill is physically invasive for women as well as an intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship. This is the epitome of government invasion into a woman’s right to privacy. Let’s be clear, politicians have just voted to mandate that a woman undergo a transvaginal ultrasound despite her wishes. Legislators with a dogged determination to practice medicine through the law have circumvented a doctor’s medical advice and denied a woman’s wishes to dictate a highly invasive medical procedure. This bill is undemocratic and demonstrates politics at its worst.”