How Virginia Driving Invoice Might Tacitly Endorse Anti-Abortion Agenda

A brand new driving invoice in Virginia might be the primary signal of native legislatures utilizing seemingly innocuous legal guidelines to tacitly endorse an anti-abortion viewpoint.

The invoice, quantity 1894, which was supplied to the Normal Meeting of Virginia on Wednesday, says that “any pregnant lady shall be thought-about two individuals for figuring out occupancy in high-occupancy automobile lanes.”

The proposed invoice would enable pregnant girls entry to high-occupancy automobile lanes (HOVs)—much less crowded carriageways reserved for drivers with a number of passengers, designed to advertise carpooling—and high-occupancy toll lanes (HOTs), which usually exempt drivers from road-use expenses.

Nonetheless, the mechanism by which it makes use of to take action, somewhat than merely enable for pregnant girls to drive in HOVs and HOTs, is to outline one as two separate riders, implying that the fetus is a definite particular person.

The Virginia State Capitol is pictured on January 8, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia. A brand new invoice launched on Wednesday says that “any pregnant lady shall be thought-about two individuals.”
Zach Gibson/Getty Photographs

“That is an insidious invoice, as a result of on its face, in fact, most individuals want to use the HOV lanes and pay much less for utilizing categorical lanes which have tolls on them, and that’s one thing we would suppose can enchantment to a sure demographic,” Tarina Keene, government director of Repro Rising Virginia, an area abortion-rights advocacy group, instructed Newsweek. “However if you learn it, you do see how insidious this invoice actually is.”

“What its actual intention is right here—and so they attempt to do that plenty of alternative ways, the anti-abortion politicians—is that they draft laws that appears like, on its face, it has good intentions, however its actually getting used to push this concept of personhood,” Keene mentioned. “It is getting used to say life begins at conception. If one thing like this had been to cross […] you might be actually taking away the rights of a pregnant particular person.”

Some anti-abortion advocates have been pushing for legal guidelines granting fetuses the identical authorized rights and protections as an individual. The concept is that life begins at conception. Granting personhood to fertilized eggs, embryos or fetuses goals to remove exceptions to abortion bans, equivalent to rape and incest. Not all anti-abortion activists agree with this technique. Opponents warn in opposition to potential wide-ranging penalties, as an example, that ladies who miscarry might face legal prosecution. Abortion-rights activists additionally level to in vitro fertilization, arguing personhood legal guidelines might grant rights to embryos that find yourself frozen.

Newsweek contacted Nicholas Freitas, a Republican delegate in Virginia’s decrease home, who launched the invoice, for remark.

Abortion goals to be a scorching subject in lots of state legislatures reconvening in 2023, after a U.S. Supreme Court docket ruling in June 2022 gave particular person states the ability to control points of being pregnant termination not already protected by federal legislation—successfully overturning its determination in Roe v. Wade.

Virginia at the moment permits abortion as much as the top of the second trimester of being pregnant (round 26 weeks), and solely past that if three licensed physicians certifying that the continued being pregnant would consequence within the loss of life or ailing well being of the mom, in keeping with the Heart for Reproductive Rights. Nonetheless, abortion within the state doesn’t profit from constitutional or statutory protections.

After the Democrats took management of each of Virginia’s legislative homes in 2019, most of the roadblocks to abortion—together with the requirement for a 24-hour ready interval between appointments earlier than an abortion can go forward—had been eliminated.

Previous to that, when the Normal Meeting was below Republican management, in 2017, it enacted a decision designating the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling (January 22) as a day of mourning for “the innocents who’ve misplaced their lives to abortion.”

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin speaks throughout a rally for Yesli Vega, Republican candidate for northern Virginias seventh Congressional District, at Locust Shade Park on November 7, 2022, in Triangle, Virginia. Youngkin has mooted a ban on abortions after 15 weeks, with exceptions for rape, incest and threats to the mom’s well being.
Sarah Silbiger/Getty Photographs

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, Virginia’s Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin has mooted a ban on abortions after 15 weeks, with exceptions. “As a pro-life governor, I’ve actually mirrored alone religion and my beliefs, and I do consider that there must be exceptions made within the case of rape and incest, and when the lifetime of the mom is really in danger,” he instructed CBS in July 2022.

Republican delegates narrowly retook Virginia’s decrease home by 52 to 48 in 2021, however its senate stays a slim Democrat majority, that means forging laws on abortion might end in stalemate. Youngkin has referred to as for a bipartisan effort on the difficulty, however the Virginia Republican management stays gloomy over the prospect. The invoice

“I might be very shocked if something of substance comes out of this Normal Meeting on that subject,” Todd Gilbert, Virginia’s Republican Home of Delegates speaker instructed reporters on Monday, in keeping with the Richmond Occasions Dispatch.