Free Lance-Star reporter Chelyen Davis covers Virginia government.
House approves personhood bill
The House of Delegates has voted to pass the “personhood” bill, which opponents say could outlaw contraception.
Del. Bob Marshall, R-Prince William, says his bill simply creates a legal cause of action for the wrongful death of an unborn child. He says it won’t affection contraception or currently legal abortion, although Marshall — one of the legislature’s most outspoken opponents of abortion — acknowledges he’d like to open the door for future abortion restrictions.
Opponents say defining life as beginning at conception would affect birth control because some forms of birth control work by preventing implantation — after the fertilization of an egg, which would be the point of conception.
Women are “rightfully concerned about their continued access to all forms of contraception if this bill is passed,” said Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax. “Let’s not move the commonwealth back to the days when contraception was not easily accessible.”
Marshall said he based his bill off a long-standing statute in Missouri, where the potential consequences listed by opponents — including a ban on contraception — haven’t happened.
“It’s been alleged by the pro-abortion or pro-choice or whatever folks, that this has every bad consequence in the world,” Marshall said. “The opponents of this type of legislation… have had 20 years to find one bogeyman in the closet.”
The bill passed on a 66-32 vote, and now will go to the Senate. The Senate is voting today on other bills that use different language to create a wrongful death cause of action.
Gov. Bob McDonnell has suggested he may have concerns about the constitutionality of Marshall’s bill.