The Virginia state senator, an obstetrician-gynecologist, said she wants to create an exception to the proposed abortion ban that would allow abortions up to 24 weeks in cases where the fetus has serious abnormalities
A Republican lawmaker in Virginia made a surprising announcement on Friday, saying he would not support it legislation calling for a ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Doctors who violate the ban will be charged with a felony, although the bill makes exceptions in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is at stake.
Republican Senator Siobhan Dunnavant has announced that she wants to make an additional exception that would allow abortions up to 24 weeks in cases where the fetus has serious abnormalities.
“Without that exemption, I would have to vote for the PBI bill,” Dunnavant said, using the initials “bypass indefinitely,” meaning she would not support the bill as written.
The bill’s sponsor from the West Wing of the state Capitol, Republican Senator Stephen D. Newman, said he would not be open to a 24-week exemption.
“I’d rather just leave my bill as it is,” Newman said. “I understand why she would want to do that, but I would just like to leave the bill as it is, for better or for worse.”
Dunnavant, an obstetrician-gynecologist, spoke in general terms about women who wish to have an abortion.
“She’s often faced with overwhelming situations and options,” Dunnavant said. “I really think it’s a very difficult place for the law to be.”
Dunnavant’s remarks are bad news for Republicans, who cannot afford to lose votes on the issue in the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats 22-18.
However, Republicans control the House of Delegates with a 52-48 majority.
Jamie Lockhart, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, said the bill would “harm Virginians and put politicians where they don’t belong: controlling people’s personal health decisions.”
Lockhart said it would “deny Virginians the fundamental right to control their bodies, lives and futures.”
Newman called it “a common sense bill that says if a child is in pain, we have to protect him or her.”
Abortions are currently allowed in Virginia in the first and second trimesters of pregnancy, which is around 26 weeks.
Pregnant moms can still get an abortion in the third trimester, but they need to sign off on three doctors saying their health is at risk.
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