A late effort to bring new life to a bill which would grant a fetus the same rights as an everyday citizen has likely failed, an early sign that Virginia Republicans may be less inclined to press forward on controversial social issues that overshadowed this year’s session when they return to Richmond in January.
Sen. Steve Martin, chairman of the Senate Education and Health Committee, does not plan to call committee members back to the capitol for a vote on “personhood” legislation before a Nov. 29 deadline to refer it to the full Senate. Proponents of the bill lobbied hard for him to schedule a meeting.
The Senate voted earlier this year to continue the bill into next session, but without action by Martin, R-Chesterfield, the bill is effectively dead.
The fetal personhood bill was one of the legislative measures that made Virginia a flashpoint in the fight over abortion rights earlier this year. During the commonwealth’s three-month-long legislative session, elected officials debated and passed a law that forces women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound. An original version of the law would have mandated a transvaginal ultrasound, attracting loud opposition from national pro-choice groups.
The personhood bill, sponsored by State Del. Robert Marshall, was widely mocked and criticized for its possible consequences, including potentially banning abortion and contraception altogether.