Senate committee rejects bill targeting low-income women with severely complicated pregnancies

Good news from the Virginia Senate this morning! We can add H.B. 62, a bill seeking to defund health care coverage for low-income women who choose abortion because of serious fetal anomaly,  to the list of anti-choice bills rejected by the General Assembly this year. (This list already includes the infamous “personhood” for fertilized eggs bill H.B. 1 that the Senate shelved last week, as well as as S.B. 637, which would have outright banned later abortions with only the narrowest exceptions and set up a challenge to Roe v. Wade.)

This morning the Senate Committee on Finance voted to “pass by” H.B. 62 indefinitely, meaning it will not move on to the full Senate for a vote. The bill had previously been approved by the Senate Committee on Education and Health (see our tweets from that hearing here), but an amendment added there had sent the bill to the Finance committee, where it was ultimately rejected. See below for our statement on this legislative victory:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, February 28, 2012

Senate Committee Soundly Defeats Bill that Targets Low-Income Women with Severe Pregnancy Complications
HB 62’s is one of a string of stunning defeats for anti-choice legislation
Earlier today, the Senate Committee on Finance delivered another decisive blow to a string of anti-choice, anti-women legislation that has plagued the General Assembly this session. Senators voted to defeat HB 62 (Cole, R-Stafford) – a heartless measure that removes funding for low-income women in cases where a physician has diagnosed that a woman’s fetus will be born with a severe fetal anomaly.
“Virginia legislators are starting to see the light on women’s health issues. We are very pleased that the members of this committee recognized how extreme this legislation is as well as its potential impact on women’s health and the most vulnerable of Virginian families,” said Tarina Keene, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia.
“No woman plans on having an abortion, but when tragedy strikes, she should not be further traumatized simply due to her financial circumstances,” said Keene.
“This bill was yet another extreme overreach by anti-choice legislators – and yet another bill that has been defeated because of the intense national attention paid to Virginia over the last few weeks. We applaud the senators who recognized the impact this bill would have on poor women and families.”
“Women and advocates should celebrate their accomplishments in protecting women’s health in such an unfriendly political environment. However, have no doubt that these bills will be back next year. Women must remain vigilant of their reproductive rights or risk losing them in the future.”

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