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Can abortion amendment get through House of Delegates?

An examining room at an abortion clinic.
Barry Gordemer
An examining room at an abortion clinic.

Republicans who offered bills rolling back access to abortion in Virginia were not offered an opportunity to present their bills this year. House Republican leadership never put them on the agenda for a committee so they quietly went away without a debate or a vote.

Now House Speaker Todd Gilbert is turning his attention to bills the House is receiving from the Senate. "The polling of the public would tell you that people favor reasonable restrictions on abortion," Gilbert argued. "They don't favor this constitutional amendment which will allow for that to happen right up until moment of birth."

Democrats say all the amendment does is create a constitutionally protected right to abortion that already exists in Virginia code.

Senator Jennifer McClellan introduced the amendment that has now passed the Senate and is under consideration in the House. She says it's true the amendment isn't expected to go anywhere this year, but she says it's still worth the fight.

"I spent 14 years in the minority pushing to remove medically unnecessary barriers to abortion. It took a long time to do it but I kept persisting," McClellan said. "If you just throw your hands up and say we can't do it you're giving up on fighting for a fundamental right, and I'm just not going to do that."

As soon as the General Assembly session is over, all 100 House members and all 40 senators will begin looking forward to an election this fall. So, they're eager to let voters know where they stand on this issue even if they don't end up approving any new laws.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.