Controversial birth control, abortion bills spark heated debate

Posted at 1:57 PM, Jan 09, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-09 14:29:05-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- At the stroke of noon Wednesday, Virginia's 2013 legislative session got underway.  But even before lawmakers could convene at the General Assembly the annual prayer breakfast started things off hours ahead of rallies from pro-choice and pro-life advocates.

"We're here and we're watching," pro-choice advocate Shelley Abrams with Cooch Watch said.

"We are here to support the right to life," pro-life demonstrator Tom Burkett said.  "That's the beauty of America we have the opportunity to come out and express to our government officials we have elected."

The two groups were armed with dueling signs, as one group chanted, as the other joined together in prayer.  They gathered to express differing opinions.  Those who were pro-choice said they were closely watching legislators--especially when it came to women's rights.

"We are keeping an eye on the General Assembly this year and I think they know it," Abrams said.  "And the people have shown that you don't have to have a seat in the General Assembly to have your voice heard."

However on the opposing side were pro-life advocates who said they were looking to become a voice for unborn children.

"Hopefully we are going to be able to express to our delegates the importance we have for abortion legislation to be removed," Burkett said.

Last year the mandatory ultrasound bill was making headlines, but this year dramatic debates are expected when lawmakers begin discussing sales versus gas taxes and gun bills.  Despite Wednesday's chilly forecast, heated arguments between pro-choice and pro-life supporters were heard by those around.  Now the two groups are hoping their concerns will also be heard by lawmakers.