Co-sponsor of Virginia abortion bill apologizes, says she didn't read it first

Bill's co-patron has since announced she made mistake supporting it

By Jeff Williamson - Digital Content Manager

RICHMOND, Va. - Delegate Dawn Adams, one of the co-sponsors of a Virginia bill looking to remove certain requirements in place before an abortion could be performed in Virginia, is now apologizing for her support of the bill.

In a message posted Thursday, Adams, a Democrat who represents Virginia's 68th District, admitted she didn't read HB 2491 before agreeing to be a co-sponsor.

That district covers the city of Richmond and Henrico and Chesterfield counties.

Adams thought it was only designed to "reverse the onerous additions to the code made in 2012 by HB462."

Here's the message she posted:

Dear Friends,
I made a mistake, and all I know to do is to admit it, tell the truth, and let the chips fall where they may. If you follow my newsletter or have written to me to ask about my votes, you know that I do my best to read and research every bill I vote on. But I did not read a bill I agreed to co-patron and that wasn’t smart or typical. I will work harder and be better for it.
 
By now you have heard about the abortion bill, or seen the video. I vaguely remember signing on to this, and I did this in solidarity with my colleague and as a symbolic gesture for a woman’s right to choose.
 
On principal alone, I do believe that women have full authority to decide what is best for themselves and their bodies. As a healthcare provider, I believe that all patients are entitled to the sanctity of the patient-provider relationship, and that medical practice should not be legislated by the General Assembly.
 
I am sorry that I did not exercise due diligence before this explosion of attention; had I done so, I would not have co-patroned, and here is why: I thought this bill sought to solely reverse the onerous additions to the code made in 2012 by HB462. While it did, it sought to do much more. Had I researched each line of removed language, I would have seen that, and known that there was more research to be done.
 
None of this changes that I believe women must have safe legal options for abortion; but I also would have seen the utility of language that provides guidelines for how to ensure this.
 
Let me summarize for you what the code says now. The foundational language was drafted in 1975 and allowed for a physician to perform an abortion in the first trimester (§ 18.2-72), it also states that no one is allowed to promote or encourage having an abortion lest they be charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor (§ 18.2-76.1). It states that neither a physician nor an institution can be forced to perform and (sic) abortion (§ 18.2-75) and that if a woman does anything to try to terminate her pregnancy on her own she will be guilty of a Class 4 felony (§ 18.2-71); additionally, abortions can always be performed if they are necessary to save the life of the mother (§ 18.2-74.1).  In 2003, the definition of partial birth infanticide was added to the code which states that any person who knowingly performs partial birth infanticide and thereby kills a human infant is guilty of a Class 4 felony (§18.2-71)- this is consistent with what the questioner in the video was describing, and not the bill submitted by Delegate Tran. This remains a crime and would not be something any sane licensed physician would perform. The code is very specific and clear about what this means and it is different from an abortion, even late term.
 
In 2009 the code provided the requirements for a physician to perform a second trimester abortion (§ 18.2-73) and the circumstances and protocol for performing an abortion after the second trimester- it is here that three conditions are mandated: It must be performed in a licensed hospital, two other physicians must concur with the primary doctors assessment, and there must be life support measures available in the event that there are any signs of viability (§ 18.2-74). Then, in 2012 there was a broad expansion in the informed consent portion of the code to include the transabdominal ultrasound, along with an arduous protocol of medically unnecessary and mandated procedures (§ 18.2-76).
 
All of the above is current law.
 
While we might continue to disagree on the policy, I feel it’s important to respond to my constituents and provide the facts amidst the politics, as I remain dedicated to the service of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the 68th district.

The bill has been tabled by the Virginia House of Delegates this legislative session.

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