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Virginia’s General Assembly Approves Legislation to Preserve Abortion Rights and Protect Gay Couples

Virginia’s General Assembly Approves Legislation to Preserve Abortion Rights and Protect Gay Couples

Proposed joint resolutions to constitutionally preserve abortion access and marriage rights regardless of sex, gender, or race in Virginia did not advance beyond the committee stage. Nevertheless, laws safeguarding both have been enacted.

Virginia permits abortion up to around 26 weeks, and the Supreme Court nationally legalized same-sex marriage in 2015. State constitutional amendments would provide additional protection for these rights in case politicians try to limit them or if the Supreme Court reverses its Obergefell ruling.

Sen. Barbara Favola, D-Arlington, introduced Senate Bill 15 to enhance abortion protections in Virginia by exempting the state from extraditing women who travel there for an abortion that is illegal in their state, as long as they follow Virginia’s abortion laws. Virginia permits abortion up until approximately 26 weeks.

The law was approved by the Senate with a vote of 21-19, with Republican Dels. Carrie Coyner, David Owen, and Kim Taylor provided crucial swing votes in the House, resulting in a final score of 54-46. House Law 1539, a related law, has also been approved and is currently under review by a Senate committee.

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Senator Jennifer Carroll Foy, a Democrat from Prince William, introduced a bill that aims to safeguard doctors who have lawfully conducted abortions in Virginia from facing consequences such as having their medical license revoked or denied. This law, like constitutional amendments, is designed to prepare for potential scenarios in Virginia following the potential overturn of Roe v. Wade.

Lexi White, the policy director for REPRO Rising Virginia, emphasized the need of preventing other states’ regulations and stigma from dissuading individuals from providing legal abortion care in Virginia.

White stated that healthcare professionals should not face penalties for carrying out lawful medical operations and should be safeguarded against intimidation tactics by anti-abortion states seeking to deter providers from offering legal care in the Commonwealth.

HB 174 and SB 101, which are identical bills, were enacted by both the House and Senate, officially legalizing same-sex marriage in Virginia. Virginia’s Constitution still includes a ban on same-sex marriage, which was invalidated by the Supreme Court in 2015. If the high court were to reverse that ruling, it would override state law.

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