Virginia Republicans Block State Constitutional Amendment Enshrining Abortion

Republicans in the Virginia state legislature have defeated an attempt by Democrats to change the body’s rules to make it possible to add an amendment to the state’s constitution that would have codified legal protections for abortionists.

The proposed Democratic amendment, known as the “Right to Abortion” Amendment, would have legalized abortion up to and during birth, made taxpayer-funded abortion possible, and restricted future laws to protect the unborn. In addition, the amendment would have defined a “fundamental right to reproductive freedom” as inherent in every “individual” without explicitly mentioning abortion or women.

Republicans had defeated the proposed amendment on the House Courts of Justice Subcommittee on February 17. Still, pro-abortion delegates attempted to force a new vote on the legislation through a legislative rule change, which would have brought back the amendment that failed to clear the committee earlier in the session. State Del. Marcus Simon (D) organized the testimony needed to bring the amendment back up for another vote on the floor before the session ended. Republicans stopped the rule change process, thereby averting a second vote on the amendment in a 50-45 vote along party lines.

Republicans argued that the amendment would have legalized the killing of the unborn and removed all restrictions on abortion, including the parental notification requirement and prohibitions on taxpayer-funded abortions. They accused Democrats of attempting to manipulate and mislead the public by hiding just how extreme the proposed amendment was.

In her February 22 address, Del. Kathy Byron (R) noted the “offensive” testimony from Democrats who favored the amendment. They consistently refused to use the word “baby” in their arguments, and “infant, child, and mother haven’t received much notice either,” she said.

Most Virginia citizens do not want women and the unborn to suffer more abortions, according to a recent poll by The Wason Center. Democrats, however, continue to argue for increased, nearly limitless abortion throughout Virginia. During the 2023 regular legislative session, they 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.

The proposed amendment would have made Virginia the latest state to pass a right-to-abortion amendment to the state constitution. In Michigan, New York, Oregon, and Vermont, similar amendments have blocked or stripped pro-life legislation, according to Olivia Gans-Turner, president of the Virginia Society for Human Life.

Gans-Turner called the push for the amendment a “hive mentality” and urged pro-life voters to ensure a robust pro-life majority in both chambers during the upcoming elections in November when all 140 seats in the Virginia legislature will be up for a vote.