A Virginia Senate committee voted along party lines Thursday morning to approve a so-called ‘personhood’ bill , despite strenuous opposition by those who argued that the broad measure could prohibit birth control and in vitro fertilization.
The bill provides that “unborn children at every stage of development enjoy all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of the commonwealth, subject only to the laws and constitutions of Virginia and the United States, precedents of the United States Supreme Court, and provisions to the contrary in the statutes of the commonwealth.”
After the bill was passed, women spilled into the hall, crying and screaming “Shame!” Capitol police forced them outside the building, where they held an impromtu protest.
“Women here will not be silenced!” they chanted.
The bill was introduced by Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William), one of the most outspoken legislators on abortion issues and a candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate this year. The committee added language to the bill to say it would not affect birth control and IVF.
Similar legislation passed the House last year, but died in the Senate, which was then controlled by Democrats. Supporters hope that the Senate, now led by the GOP, will approve it this year, but its fate is still unclear.
Marshall said his bill, modeled after legislation in Missouri, would not affect birth control, IVF or abortions but would allow parents to receive damages for the death of a fetus in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Vvoters in Mississippi and Colorado rejected similar ballot measures, but supporters say the Virginia bill is much more narrow.
The House has already passed the bill. If it is approved by both chambers, it will be sent to Gov. Bob McDonnell (R). He has not said whether he would sign it.