Virginia GOP Leader Floated Abortion ‘Grand Bargain,’ Democrats Say
Sen. Ralph Northam (D), the only physician in the Senate, said he is not agreeing to the bargain. He introduced two bills this week to repeal Virginia’s mandatory ultrasound law, which the Assembly passed in 2012. “In my mind, the bargain would start with repealing what [Republicans] did last year,” he told The Huffington Post in an interview. “It was an embarrassment to Virginia, and I think they realize that.”
Northam said he had heard about Republicans offering some kind of deal to the Democrats on abortion, but that the deal had not gone anywhere. “I don’t think anything materialized from those discussions,” he said.
Regardless of whether there was an official deal on the table, Virginia Republicans clearly understood the message voters sent them in the 2012 elections. Delegate Bob Marshall (R), who authored the fetal personhood bill in Virginia and others like it, told The Huffington Post in late November that Republican leaders have become “gun-shy” about abortion since the election and pressure him “seven days a week” to drop his legislative efforts.
Whatever efforts Norment and the Republican caucus have made to keep the abortion issue under wraps this year, however, have already failed. Republican state lawmakers introduced five new bills in the first days of the 2013 legislative session that restrict access to abortion and contraception, and Sens. Northam and Mark Herring (D) have introduced bills that would repeal two new anti-abortion laws in Virginia.
Northam’s bill would be the first in the nation to specifically protect the doctor-patient relationship. “No law or regulation of the Commonwealth or administrative action of an agent of the Commonwealth shall require that a person receive ultrasound imaging for nonmedical reasons or ultrasound imaging that is not medically indicated as a condition of receiving a medical procedure,” the bill says.
Herring’s bill would repeal legislation passed in 2011 that requires first-trimester abortion clinics to meet the same building standards as hospitals.