VA Senate Shelves Personhood Until 2013
Bill approved by Senate committee, but Senate sends it back.
The Virginia Senate voted 24-14 Thursday afternoon to send the "personhood" bill back to committee and carry it over to 2013.
Senate Republican Leader Tommy Norment of James City County made the motion to shelve the bill, saying more study is needed.
The vote came hours after the Senate Education and Health Committee endorsed the measure on an 8-7 party-line vote, with Democrats voting against it.
A bill supporting Personhood – defining that life starts at conception – was approved Thursday in a Virginia Senate Health and Education committee hearing.
Eight Republicans voted for HB1, and seven Democrats opposed it after an hour-long hearing.
The bill passed after an amendment clarifying that no provision in it would restrict the use of FDA-contraception.
The bill, introduced by GOP U.S. Senate candidate Del. Bob Marshall (R-Manassas), provides that “unborn children at every stage of development enjoy all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of the commonwealth, subject only to the laws and constitutions of Virginia and the United States, precedents of the United States Supreme Court, and provisions to the contrary in the statutes of the commonwealth.”
The vote now sends the bill to the full senate, where Democrats and Republicans hold 20 seats apiece. Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has not said whether he would sign the bill.
The committee also approved a bill requiring pre-abortion external ultrasound exams. It was amended to eliminate ultrasounds requiring an invasive ultrasound probe.
Committee chairman Steve Martin threatened three times to have police remove opponents of the bill after they spoke out during debate.
After the bill was passed, women spilled into the hall, crying and screaming “Shame!” and "Women will not be silenced!" according to The Washington Post.
Capitol police forced them outside the building, where they continued to protest.
The House has already passed the bill. Similar legislation passed the House last year, but died in the Senate, which was then controlled by Democrats. A similar bill passed in Missouri, but voters in Mississippi and Colorado rejected measures.
“The Republicans are turning Virginia into the laughingstock of the country," said Sen. Richard Saslaw (D-Fairfax), echoing what US Senate candidate Tim Kaine said on Wednesday.
"If a fetus is a person, can a pregnant woman use HOV lanes? The Virginia state legislature is not a doctor. Republicans need to get their heads out of the exam room and the personal lives of Virginians. With two weeks left in the session, when will we start doing the work of the Commonwealth?”
Advocates of this legislation claim that HB 1 merely creates a legal cause of action in the event of the wrongful death of the fetus.