Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin will seek to ban abortions statewide after 15 weeks of pregnancy, reversing state law that allows the procedure up until the third trimester.
The Republican governor has requested four Virginia lawmakers, all of whom oppose abortion, to draft legislation that would ban abortions after 15 weeks with exceptions for rape, incest, and harm to the mother’s life, Youngkin said on Friday, just minutes after the Supreme Court announced its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“Virginians do want fewer abortions as opposed to more abortions,” Youngkin told the Washington Post. “I am not someone who is going to jump in and try to push us apart. … There is a place we can come together.”
Although Youngkin wants a 15-week ban, he conceded that compromises may be needed to pass legislation. Concessions may include extending the ban until 20 weeks, which Youngkin noted is a widely agreed-upon time frame among members of Congress and other lawmakers for when a fetus begins to feel pain.
“We’ve got a process in Virginia to work through,” Youngkin said. “I am a pro-life governor, [but] I also am very, very aware of Virginia. … A governor can’t do it on his own. And it’s going to require … work across the aisle. And so we’ve got to work over the next few months to find a place that we can land.”
Abortion is legal in Virginia throughout the first and second trimesters. Exceptions can be made for third-trimester abortions if there is a serious risk to the mother’s health.
Youngkin has tasked state Sens. Siobhan Dunnavant and Steve Newman as well as Dels. Kathy Byron and Margaret Ransome with drafting the legislation.
On Friday, the Supreme Court announced its opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, ruling Mississippi can maintain its law banning abortion after 15 weeks of gestation. As a result, the court overturned the half-century-old ruling in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortions nationwide, instead leaving it to states to determine limits on when a woman can terminate a pregnancy.