RICHMOND, Va. (DC News Now) — Virginia lawmakers are back in Richmond, and front and center on their to-do list is abortion access. Gov. Glenn Youngkin said the two parties can come together for a solution, but it’s highly unlikely they will.
“As we embark on the next 46 days, when it comes to unborn children, we can come together,” Youngkin said during his State of the Commonwealth address on Wednesday. “We can choose life, and choose to support mothers, fathers, and families in difficult decisions. This session, I have asked the General Assembly to come together to protect life at 15 weeks, the point when a baby can feel pain.”
In response, many Democrats have indicated a 15-week ban is a non-starter, and with the party in control of the Senate, it indicates the status quo on abortion access in Virginia will remain.
“This is not an issue that should be compromised on,” said Tarina Keene, the executive director of REPRO Rising Virginia.
Keene said a 15-week ban is not common ground.
“What this bill would actually do is create a situation that is very dangerous for someone who may be already going through an already heartbreaking situation,” she said.
Instead, Keene and her organization want to begin the process of enshrining abortion access in Virginia’s constitution. But Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington, said any abortion efforts are unlikely to see success in this divided government during an election year.
“With 100 House of Delegates seats and 40 Senate seats up for election in November, these lawmakers are going to put off whatever they possibly can,” he said.
As for why Youngkin is promoting the legislation, even as it has an unlikely path to passage, Farnsworth said — keep your eyes on the future.
“Like any governor of Virginia, they can only serve one consecutive term, they’re thinking about what might come next,” he said. “And a very vigorous partisan campaign message can be useful going forward for the governor.”
Several GOP lawmakers have also introduced various abortion-related bills, including one that would classify a fetus as a person so a driver could use the HOV lane.
Farnsworth said that bills like that one — which have virtually no shot at passing — are often done so the lawmaker can go to their base ahead of the election and prove they stood up for the most conservative values.