Virginia's new Republican attorney general tells the Supreme Court the state will no longer oppose Mississippi's restrictive abortion law

·2 min read
  • Virginia's new Republican attorney general has reversed the state's position in a Supreme Court case challenging abortion rights.

  • The state's new position is that abortion laws should be up to states to decide.

  • Virginia previously supported abortion rights guaranteed by the landmark ruling, Roe v. Wade.

Virginia's new Republican attorney general Jason Miyares told the Supreme Court that the state will no longer oppose Mississippi's restrictive abortion law, according to a letter sent to the nation's top court on Friday.

Former Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat, had signed onto a legal brief in September with 24 state attorneys general urging the Supreme Court to protect the constitutional right to an abortion and strike down Mississippi's law, which seeks to ban the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Citing a "change in Administration," Miyares has "reconsidered" Virginia's previous position on the law, the state's Solicitor General Andrew Ferguson wrote in a letter to Supreme Court.

"Virginia is now of the view that the Constitution is silent on the question of abortion, and that it is therefore up to the people in the several States to determine the legal status and regulatory treatment of abortion," Ferguson wrote.

In December, the Supreme Court heard arguments on the Mississippi case, which threatens to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationwide up until pre-viability, or around 24 weeks of pregnancy. The case represents the most significant challenge to abortion rights in nearly three decades.

"It is Virginia's position that the Court's decisions in Roe and Casey were wrongly decided," Ferguson wrote, referencing a subsequent 1992 Supreme Court decision that upheld abortion rights.

Under Democratic leadership, Virginia has thrown its support behind abortion rights, and campaigned on the issue last year in a fight to protect them. Republicans, including Miyares and then-gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin, said they were "pro-life" but largely steered clear of offering policy proposals. Miyares and Youngkin were sworn into office on January 15, and now have already taken steps to push back on abortion rights.

The Supreme Court is expected to hand down a ruling on the case by June.

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