Virginia Legislators Back Unborn Victims Bill, Abortion Facility Regulations

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 5, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Virginia Legislators Back Unborn Victims Bill, Abortion Facility Regulations

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 5, 2004

Richmond, VA ( — Lawmakers at the Virginia state legislature have given initial approval to two pro-life bills, including one that would hand down extra punishments for criminals who attack pregnant women and kill or injure their unborn child and another that would place common sense regulations on abortion facilities.

A state Senate committee on Monday approved the unborn victims bill also known as Conner’s law, after the unborn baby of Laci Peterson. Both were killed last year and their bodies were found washed up on the shore of San Francisco Bay. A trial against her husband Scott Peterson for charges related to their deaths has just begun.

Without the law, criminals in the state of Virginia would escape punishment for the death of or injury to a woman’s unborn child.

The Senate Courts of Justice Committee, which tabled the bill last year, passed it 9-6 this time around. The House Courts of Justice Committee passed the bill as well with no debate after it was placed in a package of other bills.

Meanwhile, the state House voted 69-28 for a bill that would tighten regulations of abortion facilities.

The legislation requires any facility that performs more than 25 abortions annually to meet the requirements in place for ambulatory surgery centers. Del. Robert Marshall (R), the bill’s sponsor, says the bill is needed to make sure the medical standards at abortion facilities are the same as those expected of legitimate medical centers.

Abortion advocates oppose the legislation saying the regulations would be costly to implement. Similar laws adopted in states such as Louisiana and South Carolina have indeed proved costly and at least one abortion facility has closed as a result of the pro-life law.

Of the 19 facilities in the state that perform abortions, only one currently meets the proposed requirements, according to pro-abortion groups.

The legislation now heads to the state Senate for consideration.

Abortion advocates also opposed the unborn victims bill saying it grants personhood to unborn children — something that could be used later as an argument against laws legalizing abortion.

"They want legislation that addresses the murder of a fetus and establishes the personhood of a fetus," said Bennet Greenberg, director of government relations for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia.

Republican Sen. Kenneth W. Stolle sponsored the unborn victims bill on behalf of Attorney General Jerry Kilgore.

Pro-abortion Gov. Mark Warner (D) has not yet taken a position on the unborn victims bill.

Virginia Legislature –