A look ahead as we begin 2023 session of the Virginia Legislature

By Olivia Gans Turner, President, Virginia Society for Human Life (VSHL)

On the eve of the 2023 Virginia General Assembly which opened on Wednesday January pro-life members were preparing to attempt to guide several important pro-life bills though a still divided General Assembly. The House of Delegates holds a slim pro-life majority, but the state Senate remains in the hands of a hostile pro-abortion majority.

This means that even with pro-life Governor Glen Youngkin offering a bill to protect unborn babies who can feel pain after 15 weeks and who is willing to sign any strong pro-life bills that can get to his desk, it seems unlikely that this will be the year that will see that happen. 

Also, as members gathered to welcome everyone back to Richmond, the results of Tuesday’s special election that would determine the control of three vacant seats were eagerly awaited.  Sadly, the results in the 7th Senate district race to replace newly elected Congresswoman Jen Kiggans were disappointing: Pro-lifer Kevin Adams lost by a narrow margin.

In the House races Ellen Campbell won and will fill her late husband’s seat. Pro-life Monique Baroudi lost to radically pro-abortion Holly Siebold in Northern Virginia.

The loss of the seat in the state Senate will give pro-abortion forces a definite majority on any effort to pass protective pro-life laws during this 2023 Session. No progress will happen there until after the November 2023 elections.

At that time, every member of the General Assembly will be running for office in newly redistricted areas. It will be a complicated election cycle so pro-life voters need to pay very close attention to the extremism of pro-abortion Senators and Delegates that will be on display as pro-life bills are attacked throughout this session.  

Senator Louise Lucas, D-18,  President of the Senate, has announced repeatedly that no pro-life bills will pass this year and that she will be a brick wall to efforts to restore any of Virginia’s pro-life laws that pro-abortion members stripped out in 2020.  Other pro-abortion radicals are also vowing to oppose every pro-life bill.

After the results of the election came in on Tuesday night, pro-abortion forces decided to introduce a bill to add a “Right to Abortion” amendment to Virginia’s Constitution. They now have the votes to pass such an amendment out of the state Senate. The House of Delegates is still controlled by pro-lifers, but this issue will certainly be used throughout the session to put pressure on pro-life members before the elections in November 2023. 

Despite this obvious obstacle course, several pro-life members of the Senate and the House of Delegates are carrying strongly protective bills, including a new “Women’s Right to Know” Informed Consent Bill. A bill to protect babies who have been diagnosed with a disability and a bill to create a public awareness campaign that will provide mothers with information about Virginia extensive network of pregnancy resource centers.  

Along with the Governor’s Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,  Del. Nick Frietas has once again introduced a Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection bill which was the cause of high tension and manipulation in the Senate during the 2022 session. Both bills are powerful concepts that deserve a proper debate. It will be up to pro-life Virginians to demand that that happens.

On February 1st VSHL is inviting all pro-life Virginians to come to Richmond to advocate with their members as part of this year’s Virginia pro-life day activities, Defending Life Day events in the morning will be followed by the Virginia March for Life in the afternoon. This is vitally important event in this complicated climate after the demise of Roe v. Wade.  Go to www.vaprolifeday.org to sign up.