Pro-abortion Virginia Senators defeated three pro-life bills on Thursday, each of which would have offered preborn protections at different stages of pregnancy.
Senate Bill 1284 would have protected nearly all preborn children from abortion, with exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother. Senate Bill 1385 would have protected preborn children from abortion after 15 weeks gestation, and Senate Bill 1483 would have protected children after the time of “viability” — a loose term for that period of time when it is believed that a child can survive outside the womb. All three failed to advance in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Despite the Senate majority’s refusal to pass the bills protecting human beings prior to birth, recent polling shows that this is not in step with what most Americans want. A 2023 Knights of Columbus-Marist poll revealed that nearly 70% of Americans oppose unrestricted abortion and would limit it to the first trimester or only to extremely rare cases. Forty-four percent of those polled believe abortion should be outlawed in nearly all cases, except for the extremely rare circumstances of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.
SB 1284 was sponsored by Sen. Travis Hackworth, who had promised after the overturn of Roe v. Wade to sponsor such a bill. “No society can be deemed civil when it murders and discards its babies because they are deemed inconvenient,” he said at the time. “I am proud to lead the efforts in the Virginia Senate to patron this important legislation that will protect life and ensure Virginia leads the way in providing a dignified and respected future for all Virginians – from conception to old age.”
SP 1385, the 15-week protection bill had been a special priority for Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin, who had given his support to the 15-week time period based on the assumption that preborn children can feel pain at that time. However, research has shown that preborn children can feel pain much earlier. But regardless of whether or not they can feel pain, each child is a unique and distinct person worthy of life from the moment of conception. The ability to feel pain does not determine one’s membership in the human species.
Youngkin expressed his disappointment at the bill’s failure.
“Over 80% of Virginians have expressed a view that Republicans and Democrats should find consensus on this issue,” Youngkin told DC News Now. “And consensus on this issue is when a child can feel pain at 15 weeks and to protect life then. I believe they’re way out of touch and there’s still a path forward in the House. I sure hope they start listening to the folks that elected them to come represent them.”
Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, an OB-GYN, had sponsored SB 1483, limiting third-trimester abortions so that they would only be allowed when the mother’s life is at risk (though an induced abortion is not medically necessary). “When a child can live outside of the womb, there’s absolutely no reason to abort that child in order to protect the mother,” argued Dunnavant.
The profitable abortion industry in the state celebrated its victory. “All three of the dangerous anti-abortion proposals before this committee represented grave threats to Virginians’ health and rights, and we are thrilled to now celebrate their defeat,” Jamie Lockhart, the executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, said in a statement.
Though there are several similar bills currently in debate at the Republican-controlled House, the Senate’s refusal of all three bills signals its current unwillingness to pass any pro-life protections.