RICHMOND, Va. – Two local lawmakers are proposing Governor Glenn Youngkin’s 15-week ban on abortion.
Del. Kathy Byron and Sen. Steve Newman, both Republicans, introduced identical bills in both chambers Wednesday. However, lawmakers on either side say the chances of the bill making it through the Democrat-held state senate are slim.
The bill would make it a Class 4 felony for doctors to perform abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is at risk.
Sen. Mark Peake said he supports that provision.
“Most of us on the Republican side would prefer a bill that bans abortions much earlier,” said Peake. “Some talk about the pain threshold, some from conception.”
A third bill would consider a pregnant woman and her fetus two people, which would allow the mother to drive in a high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane with proof of pregnancy.
Democratic Sen. John Edwards said abortion bans will stall in the senate.
“Now we have 22 members in the senate who are Democrats,” said Edwards. “I think we can stop the governor from going forward with those kinds of abortion ban bills.”
Del. Sam Rasoul says other issues matter more to voters.
“The reality is, people are wanting to talk about kitchen table issues,” said Rasoul. “This is not what people are contacting us about. They want to hear about how we can help families thrive. So, I hope that we can focus on where we can build consensus and bring people together.”
Legislators on both sides are planning to tackle education, mental health, and skyrocketing utility costs.
“Have people put solar on their roofs and then enable their neighbors to use the solar,” said Edwards. “So, more clean energy.”
“Trying to lower electric rates — that’s going to be a big fight,” said Sen. David Suetterlein. “The electric monopolies are simultaneously trying to get legislation passed that will allow them to charge even more.”
All eyes will be on lawmakers this session ahead of November’s election, where every seat in the General Assembly will be up for grabs.