Del. Bob Marshall’s (R-Prince William/Loudoun) personhood bill and the dreaded “transvaginal ultrasound” law have been the two main flashpoints in the abortion debate in the Old Dominion this session, but there was another bill on the floor that acknowledged some legal rights for fetuses, and unlike the other personhood bill, this one actually passed and was signed by the Governor two weeks ago today.
Bill Stanley (R-Franklin County) proposed the measure as an alternative to Marshall’s bill, which would have included criminal penalties for those who violated its provisions and was eventually killed with the support of Sen. Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R-James City County). SB 674 instead amends the wrongful death statute of Virginia law to allow for civil action in cases of wrongful fetal death. As originally written, the bill simply added another line saying, “For the purpose of this section, death of a person includes a fetus,” but the final version was clarified to include language that ensures the mother can’t be construed as the cause of death, and action must be initiated by her, a change that resulted in six more Democratic votes in the Senate.
Meanwhile the Oklahoma personhood bill with considerably stronger wording failed three days ago.