Amendment would mean unlimited access to life-ending procedure
By Olivia Gans Turner
The 2024 Virginia General Assembly opens this week, and there is a small but powerful pro-abortion majority in both chambers.
These pro-abortion members of the Senate and House of Delegates will block the passage of any strong anti-abortion bills and force through some dreadfully dangerous abortion measures that could turn Virginia into a location for unlimited abortion up to birth.
The first thing a new pro-abortion majority is likely to do is to cast the first of two required votes in favor of a Virginia constitutional amendment allowing unlimited abortion right up to birth, which would start the process of putting the amendment on a statewide ballot for voters.
Changing the Virginia Constitution is a multi-step process, and this session will be the first step, passing amendment language.
HJ1 and SJ1, the Fundamental Right to Reproductive Freedom Act, were the first pieces of legislation introduced by Democrats after the 2023 elections. Voting could occur in the House of Delegates and state Senate in the first weeks of the 2024 session.
Why should every responsible Virginian be troubled by this action? Certainly, we all want to ensure that every woman has access to appropriate health care, especially when they are pregnant. No one wants to deny women potentially lifesaving treatment when needed.
But that’s not what this amendment is about. The language of the amendment is subtle and clever. It sounds reasonable, but it is masterfully designed with loopholes that will open a path to completely unrestricted abortion to birth and prevent any protective laws in the future.
Similar amendments that have been approved in other states have wiped out pro-life laws and expanded abortion, including requiring more tax-funded abortions, no parental consent laws for minors, and allowing non-doctors to perform abortions. These amendments even prevent much-needed laws to prevent coercive abortions. In other words, no limits of any kind, even those that will protect women.
Ultimately, the only people whom the amendment will protect will be those who benefit from unrestricted abortion, the promoters and businesses that perform abortions. In Virginia, the law already allows non-doctors to perform abortions or distribute abortion drugs. There is no longer even a requirement that a pregnant woman have an in-person physical exam before she can receive potentially dangerous abortion drugs.
The current public debate swirls around women’s rights, but the fact remains that every abortion ends the life of another human being. Abortion is not a surgery to remove a disordered organ or treat a disease; it is always and only a procedure intended to kill the baby growing in a mother’s womb. The truth is that abortion is a tragedy for the mother and child.
Abortion advocates argue that pro-lifers would pass laws that prevent appropriate or emergency care when a pregnancy becomes dangerous. It is also claimed there is a desire to punish women. Very scary rhetoric, to be sure, but not true. In 2022, 75 national and state pro-life groups signed a letter initiated by National Right to Life clarifying that they never had nor ever will promote laws that would punish women who have an abortion.
As for emergency care, the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists has made it clear that lifesaving treatment remains available in every state, even where new strong pro-life laws have been passed.
Pro-abortion organizations twist the facts and manipulate the public with stories that fill some minds with fear and anxiety. Stories of high-risk pregnancies or young women in danger are alarming, but hysteria is not the best way to make law.
What is never discussed is how abortions harm women. It is assumed that women never suffer injuries or emotional problems after an abortion. Those of us who have had abortions in this country beg to differ. Across Virginia and the country, programs and groups have been created by women and for women to resolve the emotional damage caused by their abortions.
For decades, abortion promoters have insisted that abortion is harmless. That helps sell their agenda and makes them money. Abortions aren’t done free of charge, after all.
The problem is that this insidious message has left thousands of women with memories of the most painful moment in our lives, wounded hearts and sometimes damaged bodies. We paid someone to end our children’s lives because our society has failed to address what women really need and far too often can’t find when we face a complex pregnancy situation.
The troubling reality in Virginia is that the vast majority of abortions now involve abortion pills, which a woman takes alone. When she experiences the pain, excessive bleeding, and dangers often connected with those drugs, she has no medical care to assist her.
The amendment would prevent the Virginia General Assembly from passing laws to protect women from reckless distribution of a drug that will not only kill her baby but could potentially end her life.
A basic truth is women do not need abortions. What do they need? Support, accurate medical information and care, a society that welcomes their children and provides opportunities that respect both of them. That is what they can find for free at pregnancy care centers all over America, including the 42 in Virginia. Why not provide more help to make them more accessible?
Last year, pro-abortion members of the General Assembly voted to oppose a new Department of Health website to list all the help available, private and public, to any Virginia woman from pregnancy up to their child’s 18th birthday. Are they afraid that women might find real help that goes beyond abortion?
Pro-life Virginians want to make the state a place that will be safe for unborn children and their mothers. Concerned citizens will gather in Richmond on Virginia Pro-Life Day, Feb. 21, to meet legislators in person. Together, we will be a voice for the voiceless.
Editor’s note Olivia Gans Turner is president of the Virginia Society for Human Life. This first appeared in the Washington Times.