Critics: Bills lay groundwork to make abortion, some contraception illegal

Posted at 12:50 PM, Feb 14, 2012
and last updated 2012-02-15 13:11:38-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Following a heated debate Tuesday, Virginia's House of Delegates passed two controversial bills that some think could ultimately change birth control and end abortions in the Commonwealth.

Delegate Bob Marshall's person hood bill defines life starts at conception. The other bill mandates that women must have an ultrasound before having an abortion.

However, pro-choice advocates strongly denounced both bills, especially Marshall's person hood bill, which they believe lays the groundwork to eventually make abortion and some forms of contraception illegal.

"We've seen an overall trend last year and this year in the GA attacking women's rights… [and] this is certainly one of the most egregious measures in that arena, " said Katherine Greenier, co-chair of the Virginia Pro-Choice Coalition.

Marshall explained that the legislation is not intended to outlaw abortions, but protect the civil rights of the fetus in cases of wrongful death -- or when an unborn child is killed by a negligent or criminal act.

On the other hand, Marshall said the country does need to rethink Roe vs. Wade.

"It hasn't improved women's health, it hasn't increased marital stability. As a matter of fact, out of wedlock births are through the roof right now," said Marshall.

Women's rights groups admit that while it would take a Supreme Court decision to outlaw abortion, they believe their rights in Virginia are slowly being taken away.

"This is an extreme measure that will have very serious implications for women's rights and women's health," said Greenier.

The person hood bill now goes before a Senate Health Committee for vote. The ultrasound legislation has now passed both houses and the Gov. McDonnell voiced his support for that measure.