In a highly unusual move, the full Virginia Senate killed the so-called ‘personhood’ bill for the year just hours after it seemed likely to surv ive.
The Senate voted 24-14 to send the bill back to Senate Education and Health Committee, with two anti-abortion Democrats abstaining.
Sen. Richard Saslaw (D-Fairfax) made the motion. Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment (R-James City) agreed, saying the bill needed more time to be examined.
The bill would have provided 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.”
The action came not long after a Senate committee voted along party lines to approve the bill, despite the opposition of those who argued that the broad measure could prohibit birth control and in vitro fertilization.
“This is a great victory for the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, said after the bill died. “Thousands of citizens stood up and with one voice, shouted no. I’m glad that Virginia’s legislators finally started listening.”
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.
Similar legislation passed the House last year, but died in the Senate, which was then controlled by Democrats. The Senate is led this year by Republicans. The House also approved the measure this year.
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.
Voters in Mississippi and Colorado rejected similar ballot measures, but supporters say the Virginia bill is much more narrow.