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Virginia Gets a Failing Grade
Virginia's many restrictions on reproductive rights and lack of pro-choice policies earn an "F" in NARAL Pro-Choice America's annual rating of states' laws.
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During the 2012 General Assembly session, notorious anti-choice Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William) introduced H.B. 1, a bill to state that life begins at conception – and grant "personhood” rights to fertilized eggs!
Thankfully, after you and thousands of other pro-choice Virginians joined us in publicly protesting this dangerous and far-reaching measure, the Virginia Senate decided to set aside H.B.1 for the remainder of 2012. But we can’t be fooled…”personhood” legislation is still a threat in Virginia and other states across the country.
Learn more about this dangerous anti-choice legislative strategy below.
"Personhood” legislation would be dangerous for Virginia women, children, and families.
If passed, personhood bills like 2012's H.B. 1 would lay the legal groundwork to ban abortion without exception - even in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the life of the woman. Even more frightening, "personhood” could force doctors to put the well-being of an embryo or fetus before the life and health of a woman who is pregnant – even in cases of severe pregnancy complications or health problems that put her in jeopardy. "Personhood" legislation means women losing their full rights and autonomy simply by becoming pregnant. It means a women's every action that could affect a pregnancy would be under legal scrutiny -- even before they may know they are pregnant!
These bills could even be used by anti-choice politicians as a pretense to attack the legality of common and FDA-approved forms of birth control based on their ideological claims that contraception affects established pregnancies. This would have an enormous impact on the over 1.5 million Virginia women who regularly use birth control.
"Personhood” measures could also outlaw some infertility treatments, making it extremely difficult for childless couples to have safe, planned pregnancies.
"Personhood" legislation is a nationwide anti-choice strategy to ban abortion and attack women's rights.
Bills that have been introduced in Virginia are similar to the "personhood" ballot initiative that was struck down in 2012 by Mississippi voters. Similar bills were introduced - and failed - in several other states, including Nevada, Oklahoma, Florida, Colorado, and North Dakota. Despite overwhelming public opposition to the measure, anti-choice politicians in Virginia continue to push this radical "personhood" legislation.
Virginia lawmakers have made it clear that the ultimate goal of "personhood" legislation is to ban abortion and limit access to birth control. Delegate Marshall, the bill's sponsor in 2012, openly admitted that H.B. 1 would give the commonwealth "the constitutional backbone" to ban abortion and attack reproductive rights.
"Personhood" legislation has unpredictable, far-reaching, and wasteful consequences.
The word "person" appears over 25,000 times in Virginia's laws. If passed, H.B. 1 would drastically change the meaning of this ordinary word, and could wreck havoc on inheritance laws, tax laws, property laws, and others. H.B.1 has the potential to allow individuals to claim fertilized eggs as dependents, distort demographic numbers and election districts, and could even make it legal to prosecute a woman who has had a miscarriage.
- Add your voice to those that stand against "personhood!" Sign our petition.
- Write a letter to your local paper to help get the facts out about this bill. Email us for more details.
- Become a part of our Legislative Rapid Response Team.
Need more info?
Check out NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia's recent press statements on H.B. 1:
February 23, 2012: Senate Committee Ignores Thousands of Virginians – Approves "Personhood” in the Commonwealth
February 14, 2012: Virginia on Path to Being First State with "Personhood” Law
February 10, 2012: "House Committee Advances 'Personhood' Bill Intended to Ban Abortion"
December 22, 2011: Majority of Virginians Oppose "Personhood" Bill
November 21, 2011: Statement Regarding First House Bill Filed for the 2012 Virginia Legislative Session, H.B. 1