Virginia General Assembly Update and Action Alerts!

By Olivia Gans Turner, president, Virginia Society for Human Life

Safe Haven Law Expansion

This week saw the passage out of the State Senate of a bill to extend the Virginia safe haven law from 14 days to 30 days. This would allow a desperate mother who has just given birth more time to seek the safety of a hospital, police station or firehouse to relinquish her newborn baby anonymously. This type of law is active in many states. It is a concept mentioned positively by Justice Amy Coney Barrett during the recent Dobbs case Supreme Court arguments.

The Senate bill, SB 63, would also create new standards for the operation of safe receptacles at approved locations used to comply with this law. These standards include a 24-hour alarm system and monitoring to ensure that the baby is safe until care arrives. The bill does not require all hospitals, police stations or firehouses to install such a device, as the current law makes the option to offer safe haven voluntary in Virginia.

Similar bills in the House of Delegates will be heard next week. The House bills will have to be merged and will be up during a committee meeting this Tuesday. The two bills currently are HB 50 [Farris] and HB 26 [Fowler]. HB 50 would also establish that Virginia be connected to the national safe haven hotline which provides assistance finding help for desperate mothers after a birth.

VSHL supports SB 63 and the House versions. We encourage you to contact your Delegate and ask him or her to support it as well.

Assisted Suicide Bill in Committee

A bill to allow assisted suicide has been sent to the Senate Education and Health Committee. The Bill is called a Death with Dignity Act but is simply another attempt to undermine Virginia’s protective Assisted Suicide ban. Laws like this bill have been passed in other states and it is becoming clear that where is has been legalized it is always the elderly, the disabled, the mentally ill, and the vulnerable poor who are the victims of pressure to commit suicide instead of receiving appropriate life sustaining medical care.

The bill is SB 668 “Death with Dignity Act” and it would be wise to ask your Senator to oppose it.

Bills to Watch For

There are several bills to protect unborn Children and their mothers in process at the General Assembly. all in the House of Delegates, but they are not yet scheduled for a hearing. These include a Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a new Informed Consent/ Woman’s Right to Know law and a Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. There are action items available on the VSHL website and we encourage you to send your message to your members right away.

You can use the VSHL Legislative Action Center to send a fast email.