Proposed 15-week abortion ban introduced on 1st day of General Assembly session

Two Lynchburg-area legislators have introduced legislation that would ban abortion after 15 weeks in Virginia with some exceptions.

Del. Kathy Byron and Sen. Stephen Newman, both Republicans, introduced matching bills in their respective General Assembly chambers. The bill would make it a felony for medical providers to perform an abortion if the mother is more than 15 weeks pregnant. The two exceptions would allow an abortion include if the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest and if the woman will die or suffer irreversible physical damage from carrying the pregnancy to term.

The legislators submitted the bill Wednesday, the first day of the Virginia General Assembly regular session. There is another bill from a Republican delegate, Marie March, that would ban abortion outright.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin supports Byron and Newman’s bill, according to a statement from spokesperson Macaulay Porter.

“Virginians elected a pro-life governor and he supports finding consensus on legislation which would extend protections from Virginia’s current standard to when babies begin to feel pain in the womb at 15-weeks with exceptions,” Porter said in an email.

The Virginian-Pilot requested a comment Wednesday from various legislators, including Bryon, Newman, Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, and newly elected Democratic Sen. Aaron Rouse of Virginia Beach, but did not receive responses by press deadline.

Rouse’s victory Tuesday will make it more difficult to become law. Previously, the seat was held by Republican Jen Kiggans, who now represents Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District in Washington. Rouse, who campaigned against potential curbs to abortion by a Republican-controlled General Assembly, won the seat that includes parts of Virginia Beach and Norfolk in the special election against Republican Kevin Adams.

Though Democrats already held a majority in the Senate, Joe Morrissey of Richmond has shown support for anti-abortion bills in the past and if the Senate were to be deadlocked, Republican Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears would be called in to break the tie. Now with Rouse, Democrats hold a majority in the Senate without Morrissey’s vote.

Various organizations voiced support or opposition to the bill Wednesday.

“Let’s be clear: a ban is a ban, plain and simple,” said Jamie Lockhart, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia in a statement. “Like all bans, Delegate Byron’s proposed bill would deny Virginians the fundamental right to control their own bodies, lives, and futures.”

A group in support of the bill reckons if passed, it could stop hundreds of procedures annually.

“This compassionate bill would save as many as 500 lives a year and bring Virginia in line with the overwhelming consensus of Americans, almost two dozen states and counting, and 47 out of 50 European nations that limit abortion at 15 weeks or earlier,” said a statement from Marjorie Dannenfelser, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America president.

Ian Munro,