Today in a Senate Education and Health sub-committee meeting bills designed to advance the conversation in Virginia about protection the lives of unborn children were presented for the first time during the 2023 General Assembly.  Each bill would recognize the dignity of human life in the womb. VSHL is grateful to every legislator who is seeking ways to bring legal protections to the youngest Virginians in the womb.

The main focus of the attention at this morning’s hearing was the Governor’s Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act which would provide protection to pre-born babies who are old enough to feel pain in the womb after 15 weeks. The Governor’s sensible bill is patroned in the Virginia Senate by Sen. Steve Newman, R-23, and is patroned in the House of Delegates by Del. Kathy Byron, R-22.

The bill is a rational approach that echo’s a new poll suggesting that over 60 percent of Virginians support this bill.  Also, this week, a national Marist poll also highlighted support for reasonable laws that prevent abortion after babies can feel pain as well as other commonsense laws to regulate abortion.

Witnesses speaking in favor of this compassionate bill included Dr. John Bruchalski, Founder and director of the Tepeyac OB/GYN-Divine Mercy Care Medical Center in Fairfax VA and Dr. Catherine Michael, Fredericksburg, VA.

Other speakers defending the bill included two women, Kathryn Doherty and Monique Baroudi, who had been urged to abort their babies due to disabilities at late stages of their pregnancies and who eventually gave birth successfully and now support other mothers facing high risk pregnancy.

“VSHL is strongly supportive of Governor Youngkin’s protective Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. We are grateful to Sen. Newman for carrying this important bill this session.” said Olivia Gans Turner, president of VSHL. “Pro-lifers understand that rational pro-life laws face a hostile pro-abortion Senate which makes passage of these reasonable bills this year extremely unlikely, but we look forward to the day when sensible lifesaving laws like these can finally be passed and signed.”

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Another pro-life bill was heard on Friday patroned by Sen. T. Travis Hackwork, R-38, which would recognize that human life begins at conception and provide legal protection to unborn children throughout pregnancy. The Committee also voted to recommend that the full Committee defeat the bill next week.

The sub-committee, chaired by Sen. George Barker, R-39, voted along party lines 6-4 to kill the pro-life bills. They were joined by Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, R-12.

Sen. Dunnavant had also offered her own bill which allowed abortions up to 24 weeks and left much of the details of that determination to the abortionist. VSHL opposes that bill because it did little more that codify the law in Virginia to echo Roe v. Wade which would not move Virginia forward towards true protections for the unborn.

Sen. Dunnavant also offered an amendment to the Governor’s bill that would have allowed abortions after 15 weeks if the baby might have a disability. Such an amendment would prove to be a huge loophole for abortionists and would have only killed more babies and harmed their mothers’ health. Thankfully, it was rejected by Sen. Newman.

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