The 2023 Virginia legislative session started with hope but ultimately ended with disappointment for the future of the unborn in Virginia. With divided chambers of the Virginia General Assembly – consisting of a pro-life controlled House of Delegates and a pro-abortion Senate – both life-affirming and pro-abortion legislation was considered and voted on. Sadly, we saw no advancement of pro-life policies in light of this division.
Outlined below is a brief snapshot of these critical policies and outcomes.
Pro-Abortion Constitutional Amendment
Pro-abortion Virginia General Assembly members introduced legislation that, through a voter referendum, would enshrine a so-called “fundamental right to reproductive freedom” into the state constitution (HJ 519 & SJ 255). This dangerous and misleading constitutional amendment would eliminate virtually all current or future protections for the unborn, legalizing on demand abortion up until birth at taxpayers’ expense in Virginia.
While SJ 255 was ultimately defeated this year in the House after passing out of the pro-abortion Senate, we must start educating our friends and neighbors NOW about the dangers and serious implications of this pro-abortion constitutional amendment. If SJ 255 ever successfully passes the General Assembly, voters at the ballot box will decide the fate of the unborn in Virginia.
Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
Pro-life members of the Virginia General Assembly brought forward the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” which would protect life at 15 weeks when an unborn baby can feel pain. HB 2278 and its companion SB 1385 were championed by Governor Glenn Younkin and other pro-life Delegates and Senators. 61% of Virginians support legislation that protects life at 15 weeks, including 60% who identify as pro-choice. Sadly, this life-saving bill, which protects unborn babies who can feel excruciating pain, was stopped by pro-abortion activists from reaching the Governor’s desk.
Other Life-Saving Legislation
Another life-affirming piece of legislation considered this session was HB 1795, a bill guaranteeing that babies born alive after a failed abortion would receive the same level of medical care as appropriate for a premature baby born at the same gestational age. This bill passed in the pro-life House, but unfortunately failed to pass in the pro-abortion Senate. Pro-life legislators and pro-life Governor Youngkin also introduced an amendment (HB 1400) that would adopt the Hyde Amendment into the state budget to stop the funding of abortions with state taxpayers’ money to the fullest extent possible under federal law. We are awaiting the outcome of this life-saving measure.
Protecting and fully educating expectant mothers of their life-affirming options was another priority for pro-life members this session. Legislation was introduced that would require physicians to provide pregnant women who are considering an abortion with information about alternatives and available resources (HB 2270), and a bill was introduced to establish a website that would provide pregnant women access to information about life-affirming assistance (HB 2476). Sadly, both of these pro-women bills were stopped from passage by pro-abortion leaders in the Virginia Senate, after both passed out of the pro-life House.
Heartbreakingly, Virginia law currently allows abortion through viability and pro-abortion activists will continue to fight all measures that protect the dignity of the unborn and will instead try to further expand abortion access. That is why we need you to educate your family, friends and neighbors on how your General Assembly members are voting on these critical life-affirming, or life-ending pieces of legislation!
During the heart of this past legislative session, pro-life Virginians gathered on February 1st, 2023 for the fifth annual Virginia March for Life! Thousands gathered to advocate for life, hear testimony, share their stories, and march to show that Virginia is for life!
We must continue to stand strong in sharing the truth and hope that life is precious at every stage, that expecting mothers should be cared for and given hope, and that equality begins in the womb.