RICHMOND, Va. — The United States Supreme Court ended constitutional protections for abortions on Friday in a decision by its conservative majority to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The protections had been in place for nearly 50 years. It is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states.
Thirteen states, mainly in the South and Midwest, already have laws on the books that ban abortion in the event Roe is overturned, according to the Associated Press. Another half-dozen states have near-total bans or prohibitions after 6 weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant.
But as of right now, abortions are still legal in Virginia.
According to Virginia Code 18.2-72, an abortion can be performed up until the third trimester of a patient's pregnancy. After that, it can only be performed if the patient's life is in danger, as certified by three doctors.
Parental consent is required for minors seeking to terminate a pregnancy.
Public funding of abortions, through Medicaid, is allowed only in cases of rape or incest, if the patient's life or health is at risk, or if the fetus has “incapacitating” physical or mental deficiencies.
Abortion is covered in insurance policies for public employees in Virginia only in cases of life endangerment, rape, incest or fetal impairment.
But the future of abortion laws in Virginia remains unclear.
During the 2022 General Assembly, seven anti-abortion bills were introduced — even though none were passed.
Senate Democrats say they intend to continue blocking attempts to roll back abortion access, though they control the chamber by the narrowest possible margin and have one caucus member who personally opposes abortion and says he is open to new restrictions.
Republicans also have a narrow hold on the House, with several moderate members.
Every seat in the General Assembly will be on the ballot in 2023.
Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin has made it clear he is against abortions. He issued the following statement after the Supreme Court's decision on Friday:
"The Supreme Court of the United States has rightfully returned power to the people and their elected representatives in the states. I'm proud to be a pro-life Governor and plan to take every action I can to protect life. The truth is, Virginians want fewer abortions, not more abortions. We can build a bipartisan consensus on protecting the life of unborn children, especially when they begin to feel pain in the womb, and importantly supporting mothers and families who choose life. That's why I've asked Senator Siobhan Dunnavant, Senator Steve Newman, Delegate Kathy Byron and Delegate Margaret Ransone to join us in an effort to bring together legislators and advocates from across the Commonwealth on this issue to find areas where we can agree and chart the most successful path forward. I've asked them to do the important work needed and be prepared to introduce legislation when the General Assembly returns in January."
Youngkin also confirmed with CBS 6 that he is asking those senators and delegates to work on legislation for a 15-week abortion ban.
Democratic Senator Tim Kaine also released a statement on Friday about the Supreme Court ruling:
“I am deeply disturbed that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, upsetting decades of precedent protecting the right of women to make fundamental personal decisions about contraception and abortion without unnecessary government interference. That’s why I’ve been engaged in efforts in the Senate to codify the basic framework of Roe v. Wade and related cases into federal law. We’re not going to give up on the fight to protect the right to choose.”
Senator Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) said, "I'm outraged. Frankly, it's the first time in my life that rights were taken away by the Supreme Court. And as someone who's fought to make Virginia a safe haven for access to abortion, that fight's coming back to the states, and I'm ready to keep fighting."
McClellan was instrumental in passing the Reproductive Health Protection Act in Virginia in 2020.
In an interview with CBS Mornings on Thursday, Youngkin spoke about the potential overturning of Roe V. Wade.
"My first job is to keep Virginia safe and so we’re going to protect our constitutional right to protest if people want to protest and demonstrate but we’re also going to enforce the law and make sure there’s no violence and so we’ve coordinated with mayors and local police and state police to make sure that people get to express their constitutional rights but we’re gonna keep people safe and if they break the law we’re going to arrest them," he said.
Virginia Planned Parenthood conducted a rally in protest of the Supreme Court decision at 1 p.m. at the Bell Tower in Capitol Square outside the Virginia State Capitol.
For more information on abortion services available to you in Virginia,click here.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.