Posted by on November 21, 2023 11:41 am
Categories: News Washington Examiner

Virginia Democrats propose abortion rights amendment after election victory

Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) gestures as he talks with reporters after greeting voters at a polling station during Election Day, Nov. 7, 2023, in Glenn Allen, Virginia. Steve Helber/AP

Virginia Democrats propose abortion rights amendment after election victory

Gabrielle M. Etzel November 21, 11:29 AM November 21, 11:29 AM Video Embed

Virginia may be the next state to pass an abortion rights constitutional amendment, as Democrats have made pursuing a ballot measure a top priority for the start of the 2024 legislative session.

Democrats took the majority in both the House of Delegates and Senate earlier this month after Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) marketed the election as a referendum on his leadership.


The election was also framed as a test of whether Virginians were ready to support Youngkin’s proposal of a ban on abortion at 15 weeks gestation, the point at which a fetus can feel pain in the womb.

“Throughout the campaign cycle, we told Virginians that a Democratic majority meant that abortion access would be protected,” Democratic Del. Charniele Herring told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “It has become all too clear that without constitutional protection, access to reproductive healthcare is at risk.”

Herring, from the Alexandria area, will be the next House majority leader and is sponsoring the House resolution for the amendment.

The amendment explicitly protects the “fundamental right to reproductive freedom and … the right to make and effectuate one’s own decisions about all matters related to one’s pregnancy.”

The language of the text also “prohibits the Commonwealth from penalizing, prosecuting, or otherwise taking adverse action” against individuals making their own reproductive decisions or against those assisting them.

The only limiting principle for the otherwise expansive protections on reproductive freedom is the allowance for legislative action that is “justified by a compelling state interest and achieved by the least restrictive means.”

Although the word “abortion” is not found in the amendment, there is also no language in the text that would allow the state to prohibit late-term abortions or establish a prohibition on abortion after fetal viability.

For the amendment to be added to the Virginia Constitution, it must be passed by two different legislative years, with a popular vote for the House of Delegates in between, before going to the people of the commonwealth for a referendum.


The next House election is in 2025, meaning that the state referendum could not occur until 2026.

If the abortion rights amendment passes, Virginia would join Ohio, Michigan, California, and Vermont, which have already enshrined abortion rights into their state constitutions. A multitude of other states are slated to have abortion rights amendments on the ballot for the 2024 election cycle.

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