Democrats in the Virginia General Assembly are looking to create a right to an abortion in the state constitution – a top priority for the party's new legislative majority.
The proposal, prefiled on Monday as House Joint Resolution No. 1, will establish that "every individual has the fundamental right to reproductive freedom" if it passes in January 2024.
"This right to make and effectuate one's own decisions about all matters related to one's pregnancy shall not be denied, burdened, or infringed upon, unless justified by a compelling state interest and achieved by the least restrictive means that do not infringe an individual's autonomous decision-making," the proposal reads.
It comes in the backdrop of Democrats capturing the state House of Delegates and holding onto the Senate after the Nov. 7 elections, as reported in The New York Times. Both chambers, going into 2024, are set for a plus-one Democratic majority.
Democrats, who campaigned heavily on abortion, are using their new majority to strike blows at the state's current limits. Virginia currently bans abortion after 26 weeks but has exceptions in the third trimester.
Jamie Lockhart, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, previewed that the amendment's proposal was imminent in the aftermath of the Democrats' election victory earlier this month, as reported by the Virginia Mercury.
"Our victory on Tuesday allows us to work with these majorities to advance a constitutional amendment that will be on Virginia's ballot in 2026 when we keep an abortion-rights majority in 2025," Lockhart explained.
If both chambers pass the proposed amendment, it will sit stagnant until the next legislative election. After the election, a majority in the new General Assembly must pass it again for it to go to voters.
Luca Cacciatore, a Newsmax general assignment writer, is based in Arlington, Virginia, reporting on news and politics.
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