NORFOLK, Va. — A long-standing debate is returning to the Virginia House of Delegates and the Senate.
House Bill No. 1274, introduced by Del. Nicholas Freitas (R-Culpeper), is looking to ban abortions once a pregnancy reaches 20 weeks. It's part of an effort, along with several other states, to roll back state laws protecting a woman's right to choose.
State Sen. Amanda Chase also filed the same bill in the Senate. It's called the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and it's gaining a lot of attention in this year's legislative session.
The bill says it will only allow exceptions if the person needs an abortion to avoid death or an irreversible health problem, but it does not mention any exception for rape or incest.
The legislation proposal is posing as a red flag to statewide advocacy groups such as Pro-Choice Virginia. The organization's executive director, Tarina Keene, said she's concerned if this bill passes legislation.
"This is a pivotal point for the future of abortion rights in this country," said Keene. "This particular bill goes after the most vulnerable and difficult circumstances that a person can face in their pregnancy.
Keene said this type of bill sets back their progress on women's reproductive rights.
"Even though we don't want to see Roe go away, we know we need so much more access and there are so many people who have been left behind with just having the bare minimum of rights," Keene said.
In addition to this bill, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares sent a letter to the Supreme Court, asking leaders to remove Virginia from a list of 22 states supporting the Supreme Court's ruling against Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban proposal.
Miyares' letter also challenged the Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade ruling, calling for the court system to leave the decision on abortion rights up to individual states.13News Now reached out to Miyares for a comment, but we have yet to get a response.
Lawmakers will vote on this bill before the legislative session ends in March.