Why did Virginia Democrats vote to advance an abortion restriction?
The Democratic speaker of Virginia’s House of Delegates voted to advance an abortion restriction early Thursday Morning. Observers are calling it an act of political gamesmanship happening in Richmond.
The bill comes from Bedford-area Delegate Tim Griffin. Griffin’s other near-total abortion ban was dumped by a subcommittee late Wednesday. He wasn’t present when his bill to ban state funds for the procedure was brought before the House Rules committee, chaired by Democratic House Speaker Don Scott, Thursday morning.
“I don’t think it contains the Hyde Amendment exceptions for rape, incest or life of the mother,” said House Republican Minority Leader Todd Gilbert, also a member of the Rules committee, comparing the effort to the federal-level ban on government monies going to abortion.
Still, the Democratic majority on the committee - including Scott - voted to advance the bill to the House floor.
Protecting abortion access was a key part of Democratic campaign platform. So why did the most powerful Democrat in the House just advance an abortion-related restriction?
“It puts Republicans in a tough spot," said University of Mary Washington Professor Stephen Farnsworth. "They either have to vote for this extreme position and then face whatever backlash might exist, or not vote for it and run the risk of losing a primary to someone who says they’re not conservative enough.”
In a statement sent out Thursdays afternoon, Scott echoed Farnsworth’s theory saying they wanted all 100 delegates on the record.
"While it is rare that the motion to report without recommendation is exercised by the Rules Committee, as Speaker, I believe this moment called for its use so that Virginians know exactly what their representatives choose to do with the power granted to them by their constituents,” Scott said in the statement.
Those recorded votes could start as early as Friday with debate on the bill as early as Monday.