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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 14, 2012
Virginia on Path to Being First State with “Personhood” Law
House of Delegates Passes Sweeping Legislation Granting Constitutional Rights to Fertilized Eggs and Advances Mandatory Ultrasounds
Today, the House of Delegates approved Delegate Bob Marshall’s (R-Prince William) so called "personhood” bill by a 66-32 vote.
The bill’s intent is similar to the recently defeated Mississippi ballot amendment that 58% of voters rejected. H.B. 1 would ban birth control and abortion upon the overturning of any U.S. Supreme Court precedent that protects a women’s constitutional right to privacy.
"The General Assembly is dangerously close to making Virginia the first state in the country to grant personhood rights to fertilized eggs,” said Tarina Keene, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. She continued, "With the word "person” appearing more than 25,000 times in the Virginia code, single-minded legislators are about to run this Commonwealth off a cliff as well as eradicating women’s health and rights.”
"This legislation is ill-conceived and has far-reaching and unforeseen consequences on tax, property and probate laws as well as interfering with a doctors’ ability to treat miscarriages. Its true intent, of course, is to ban abortion and the most commonly used FDA approved methods of birth control,” said Keene. "Research shows that over 1.5 million women use some form of contraception in the Commonwealth today. This is a major misstep by anti-choice legislators who misunderstand Virginian’s values and priorities. Voters will hold them accountable.”
The House of Delegates also passed a mandatory ultrasound bill – H.B. 462 – patroned by Delegate Kathy Byron (R-Bedford). Pro-choice legislators argued that because most abortions occur prior to 12 weeks gestation, an invasive transvaginal ultrasound would be required to see the fetus or hear the heartbeat. Supporters, such as Del. Todd Gilbert (R – Shenandoah) were not swayed. Del. Gilbert went so far as to say that government should be allowed to mandate this invasive procedure because abortion is only a matter of "lifestyle convenience.”
Keene said, "This bill and comments on the House floor show the disrespect anti-choice lawmakers have for women’s personal and private reproductive decisions made with their doctors and their families.”
"This bill is physically invasive for women as well as an intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship. This is the epitome of government invasion into a woman’s right to privacy. Let’s be clear, politicians have just voted to mandate that a woman undergo a transvaginal ultrasound despite her wishes. Legislators with a dogged determination to practice medicine through the law have circumvented a doctor’s medical advice and denied a woman’s wishes to dictate a highly invasive medical procedure. This bill is undemocratic and demonstrates politics at its worst.”
Advocacy & Communications Manager