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Virginia governor rolls back abortion restrictions

 

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Friday signed legislation into law that would roll back several restrictions on abortion in the state.

The legislation repeals regulations mandating those seeking an abortion to get an ultrasound at least 24 hours prior to undergoing the procedure and receive counseling on alternatives to abortion. It also revokes requirements saying facilities that provide more than five abortions per year be designated as hospitals and that only physicians provide abortions during the first trimester of pregnancy.

“No more will legislators in Richmond—most of whom are men—be telling women what they should and should not be doing with their bodies,” Northam said in a statement. “The Reproductive Health Protection Act will make women and families safer, and I’m proud to sign it into law.” 

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The laws will go into effect on July 1.

The signing of the laws marks a continued push for liberal policies the Virginia government has undertaken since Democrats won back both chambers of the state legislature in 2019. Northam on Friday also signed into law five gun control measures that, among other things, include expanded background checks and a "red flag" law allowing law enforcement to take guns from those deemed to present a danger to themselves or others.

Supporters praised Northam’s signing of the legislation, saying it removed nonscientific obstacles in the path of a women seeking abortions.

“This is about protecting Virginians’ health, rights, and basic dignity,” said state Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D). “Today, we have finally put an end to these medically unnecessary barriers to women's reproductive health care. Politicians should not interfere in women’s personal medical decisions, period.”

Republicans have come out in force against the legislation since it was debated in the legislature, accusing Democrats of curtailing women’s options and denying them information on abortion.