Richmond, Va., Jan 29, 2020 / 03:43 pm (CNA).- Virginia’s legislature has voted to repeal restrictions on abortions in the state. The state’s governor is expected to sign the repeal into law soon.
The state’s House of Delegates voted 52-45 Tuesday to repeal abortion restrictions, including a mandatory 24-hour waiting period before abortion, ultrasound requirements, and standards requiring some abortion clinics to meet hospital construction codes.
The state Senate approved similar legislation Wednesday, though differences in the legislation must be ironed out before a bill goes to Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam for signature. The state Senate split its vote 20-20, and Virginia’s Lt Gov. Justin Fairfax cast the tie-breaking vote.
The legislation permits nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants to perform abortions, which must now be performed by physicians.
Under current state law, women are obliged to wait for 24-hours to undergo an abortion following their request for the procedure. Women seeking an abortion are also required to undergo an ultrasound and counseling services. Those laws were passed by legislators in 2012.
Democratic lawmakers in the state say the 2012 laws are an unnecessary burden to women, and have hailed the decision to repeal as a benefit for women’s health.
“These restrictions are only aimed to limit a woman’s ability to access safe and legal abortion care, and it’s time to finally roll back these outdated laws that are not based on health and are not based on safety,” Del. Patrick Hope said this week.
“This bill goes back to the basic principle that this is between a woman and [her] doctor,” House Majority Leader Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, said Monday.
Republican delegates mostly disagreed. During the hearing, GOP legislators expressed concern that removing safeguards and regulations on abortion would be detrimental to women.
Pro-life groups have also decried the General Assembly’s recent decision. Olivia Gans Turner, president of the Virginia Society for Human Life, described the repeal as tragic.
“This week will be remembered as a tragic one for the well-being of all women in Virginia as well as their unborn children. The action of the General Assembly only serves to protect abortionists who once more will be able to hide the truth from the women that come to them,” said Turner, according to a recent statement.
Jeff Caruso, head of the Virginia Catholic Conference, also expressed disappointment in the decision and urged Virginia residents to contact their local legislators.
“It is deeply disappointing and dismaying that both the House and the Senate have passed legislation that strips away longstanding protections for the unborn. We urge all pro-life Virginians to continue contacting their legislators to voice their strong opposition as each bill crosses over to the other chamber for consideration,” Caruso told CNA in an email.
“And we need people from across our Commonwealth to attend the Virginia March for Life on February 13 and take a strong stand for life.” he added.
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