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Two years after Dobbs, an abortion access amendment is still on Virginia's horizon

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin marches with attendees at a "March for Life" event on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Mike Caudill)
Mike Caudill
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AP
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin marches with attendees at a "March for Life" event on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, in Richmond, Va.

Virginia’s abortion laws haven’t changed in the two years since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned federal abortion protections with the Dobbs decision. But that doesn’t mean elected officials and activists aren’t trying.

The U.S. Supreme Court sent the issue of abortion back to the states two years ago Monday, and it's often played out in favor of abortion access when put to the popular vote.

It’s a movement Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger says she’ll throw her support behind as she campaigns to be the next governor of Virginia.

“The attacks on reproductive health care from abortion to contraception to IVF are clear. And It’s something I hear about from all corners in the Commonwealth. And it will be a central issue for many voters,” Spanberger told Radio IQ.

Democrats in the General Assembly submitted a constitutional amendment this past legislative session they say willprotect reproductive freedom. As long as the two chambers Democratic majorities hold, it’s expected to pass during the 2025 session. Then, as required by the state’s constitution, a statewide election must occur followed by a second legislative vote held. It would then go to voters as early as 2026.

Olivia Gans Turner is the president of the Virginia Society for Human Life, a group opposed to abortion. Despite the success of abortion access ballot measures in other states, she said she welcomes such a move in the Commonwealth.

“We need to have that conversation in Virginia, where do we really stand? How far do we want to go? Do we want unlimited abortion?” Turner asked.

A 2023 poll fromChristopher Newport University found about half of Virginians like the state’s current abortion laws, and nearly a quarter wish they were less restrictive. Only that final quarter said it should be harder to access abortion.

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

Brad Kutner is Radio IQ's reporter in Richmond.