Reproductive Rights

VA House of Delegates Table Abortion Bill That Loosens Restrictions on Late-Term Abortions

A proposed Virginia bill meant to loosen several restrictions on abortions, such as eliminating any procedures and processes required that affect a woman’s informed consent, and easing late-term abortion requirements, was tabled by a subcommittee after videos of Del. Kathy Tran defending the bill went viral.

Del. Kathy Tran’s remarks went viral after she said that the bill would technically allow abortions until the point of birth in a committee hearing last week. This sparked a national debate about late-term abortions, despite the current law already allowing them under specific circumstances.

“We need to trust women to make their own healthcare decisions,” said Tran. “I regret that these partisan games have taken the focus away from where it should be: on the Virginian women who have asked for this bill to get politicians out of their private medical decisions.”

Virginia House Bill 2491 proposed the removal of several abortion restrictions. The bill would remove the requirement that second and third trimester abortions be performed in a hospital as well as the language classifying hospitals as facilities that perform five or more first-trimester abortions per month. The bill also proposes to eliminate any procedure or process that affects a woman’s informed written consent, such as the performance of an ultrasound or a 24-hour waiting period. In addition, the bill reduced the number of doctor’s required to certify a third trimester abortion that prevents a woman’s death or impairment of her mental or physical health, amending the language to also discard the requirement that the impairment must be substantial and irremediable.

A few weeks ago, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York signed a similar bill, the Reproductive Health Act, that expands the criteria for receiving an abortion to allow abortions when the fetus is not viable, when birth or pregnancy endangers the life of the mother, and abortions past 23 weeks.

The overwhelming majority of abortions take place prior to the 20 week mark, and those who seek out abortion later in pregnancy often do so for very complicated and personal reasons, including severe fetal anomalies, most of which can’t be detected prior to the 20 week mark. In 2015, the CDC reported that only 1.3 percent of abortions were performed at or after 21 weeks’ gestation.


Media Resources: Vox 2/1/19; Virginia’s WSET 1/30/19; Feminist Newswire 1/29/18; Feminist Newswire 1/24/19; CDC 11/23/18

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