Republicans in the Virginia House defeated a Democrat effort to change the legislative body’s rules and put an amendment on the ballot that would have codified legal protections for abortionists in the commonwealth’s constitution.
In a final vote on Feb. 23, Republican delegates voted down a rule change to resurrect the radical “Right to Abortion” Amendment, proposed by House Democrats earlier in the 2023 session.
The amendment would have sanctioned the killing of the unborn in the Virginia Constitution, legalized abortion up to and during birth, made possible taxpayer-funded abortion, and inhibited the passage of future laws to protect the unborn.
The amendment itself never mentions abortion or women at all, instead defining a “fundamental right to reproductive freedom” as being inherent in every “individual.”
As seen in a candid 2022 Senate bill, however, the amendment would have legalized disturbing procedures to kill and extract a full-term baby from a woman’s body. These techniques include “electrical vacuum aspiration,” “intact dilation and extraction” (or partial-birth abortion), and “intrafetal injection” of poisonous chemicals.
That bill would have given abortionists license to choose an alternative method of killing through a provision of “Method not listed” with almost no limitations. The so-called Right to Abortion Amendment would have made unborn babies vulnerable to these assaults up until birth. Advocates made no apologies for their gruesome stance.
It was a week of “hysteria, manipulation and lies,” said Virginia Society for Human Life President Olivia Gans-Turner.
Democrat delegates declared that Republicans supported the death of mothers by removing access to abortion on demand. They claimed Republicans wanted to enter a woman’s “bedroom” by enacting laws to protect unborn babies.
Del. Candi Mundon King, D-Prince William, testified that Republicans sought to “control” women’s bodies.
Meanwhile, Del. Kathy Byron, R-Bedford, referred to the pro-abortion argument as “manipulative and misleading” because it aims “to hide just how extreme this [amendment] proposal is.” In her Feb. 22 testimony, she noted the “offensive” testimony from Democrats who favored the amendment. They consistently refused to use the word “baby” in making their arguments, and “infant, child, and mother haven’t received much notice either,” she said.
“Let us be honest and direct about exactly what this proposed amendment to our constitution would do,” Byron said:
It would remove all restrictions on abortion including the parental notification requirement and prohibitions on taxpayer funded abortions. It would allow abortion on demand up to and including the moment of birth. That makes it violently more extreme than Roe, which at least acknowledged the child was entitled to protections in the third trimester of pregnancy. The amendment being offered offers no such protections. That is the most extreme position on abortion anyone can take.
Republicans on the House Courts of Justice Subcommittee killed the amendment on Feb. 17 in a partisan 5-3 vote, but pro-abortion delegates attempted to force a second vote on the legislation by a rule change, which would have brought back the amendment that failed to clear committee earlier in the session.
Del. Marcus Simon, D-Fairfax, organized the required five days of testimony to bring the amendment to a second vote on the floor before the session came to a close. Republicans stopped the rule change, eliminating the possibility of a new vote on the amendment in a 50-45 vote along party lines.
Current Virginia law prohibits abortion in the third trimester with limited exceptions. According to a recent poll by The Wason Center, most Virginians do not want women and the unborn to suffer more abortions.
But Democrats continue to unabashedly argue for increased, nearly limitless abortion in the commonwealth. And they are not primarily concerned with the health of mothers, as shown in their effort to discard human rights laws for abortion survivors. During the 2023 regular session, Democrats also voted down bills to provide for the publication of a free, informational website that would list assistance options for mothers and require doctors to obtain written, informed consent from a woman before an abortion.
Elections and the Future of Abortion
In Virginia, two successive General Assemblies, with House elections between them, must pass a constitutional amendment for it to go to the voters as a ballot referendum. In Michigan, New York, Oregon, and Vermont, right-to-abortion amendments to the states’ constitutions have blocked or stripped pro-life legislation, Gans-Turner said.
“This is a hive mentality, and it is deadly,” Gans-Turner said. “The only successful way for us to block it is to ensure we have a strong pro-life majority in both chambers.”
This November, all 140 seats in the Virginia legislature will be up for a vote.
“Pro-abortion proponents in the legislature this session reminded us how important it is to have in place at least leadership who respects human life,” said Del. Dave LaRock, R-Loudoun. “The general public does not agree with very late-term abortion, but if voters don’t get in the game we will be ruled by people who make decisions that are not reflective of our people