Anti-Abortion Bills Pass Virginia House, Condemned by Democrats, Blacks

Some of the most restrictive anti-abortion measures in the country were approved by the Virginia Republican-led House and are expected to pass the Republican-led Senate.

Posted: 02/15/2012 05:23 PM EST

Legislators in Virginia have passed two of the most restrictive anti-abortion bills in the nation, including a controversial measure to require transvaginal ultrasounds before a woman would be allowed to get an abortion.

In another measure, the Republican-led state house approved another measure that would effectively outlaw all abortions in Virginia by establishing that the rights of persons begin at the point of conception.

The measures, which are now being considered by the state’s Republican-led Senate, have been widely condemned by Democratic leaders throughout the country, who have called them a brutal assault on women’s reproductive rights.

Opponents have called the measure highly draconian, pointing out that voters in Mississippi overwhelmingly rejected a similar “personhood amendment” in a referendum late last year. The measures are expected to be approved by the state Senate.

The bills have also been harshly criticized by Virginia’s Black legislators, including Charniele L. Herring, the Democratic Whip in the Virginia House.

“For any woman, including women of color, these are bills that create barriers to women in their effort to get access to health care,” Herring said, in an interview with BET.com.

“This is offensive to women. The Republicans can no longer call themselves anti-big government. This is big government at its most offensive.” Herring represents a district that includes portions of Alexandria, in northern Virginia.

By a 63-36 vote, the Virginia House passed a bill that requires women to have a transvaginal ultrasound before undergoing abortions.

Herring criticized the measure, saying that it would literally mandate that the state undertake invasive probes of women who seek abortions. “My view is that this is part of an extreme social agenda that would also bar women from getting access to adequate health care.”

During a floor debate on one of the bills, C. Todd Gilbert, a Republican legislative leader in the Virginia House, described abortion as a "lifestyle convenience"


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(Photo:  Charniele L. Herring)

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