Vice President Harris to visit Richmond, discuss abortion rights fight with Virginia Democrats

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Vice President Kamala Harris will be in Richmond Saturday for a roundtable discussion on “the fight to protect reproductive rights” with Virginia lawmakers and leaders, her office announced.

The vice president has met with state lawmakers and advocates in Florida, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and at the White House this month about efforts to protect abortion rights in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on June 24 that struck down the constitutional right to an abortion.

The full list of participants for Saturday’s discussion is unknown. But Virginia Republicans and Gov. Glenn Youngkin have been open about their intentions to try to pass abortion restrictions after the court’s decision and state Democrats have vowed to be a “brick wall” on abortion rights.

State Sens. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) and Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) will participate in the roundtable discussion with Harris, 8News was told by a Senate Democrat spokesperson. Sen. Lucas, the Virginia Senate’s president pro tempore and chair of its Education and Health Committee, tweeted Thursday that she would be there to greet Harris and take part in the panel.

Garren Shipley, a spokesperson for Virginia House Republicans and Speaker Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), told 8News that, to his knowledge, no lawmakers in the caucus were invited.

Gov. Youngkin said the day the court’s ruling came down that he would push for a ban on most abortions after 15 weeks, but with exceptions for rape, incest or when the mother’s life is at risk. Other Virginia Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), have called for a statewide ban with no exceptions.

Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) will also greet the vice president and take part in the roundtable, according to the congressman’s office. “The unprecedented overturning of Roe by this right-wing Supreme Court threatens the health, economic stability, and future of vulnerable Americans and reverts the issue back to states,” McEachin said in a statement Friday.

Youngkin tapped four state Republican lawmakers to draft legislation that would implement an abortion ban, saying he would sign any bill to “protect life” and later acknowledging he would support stricter limits and seek them if Republicans take over the General Assembly.

Abortions are legal in Virginia and the Supreme Court’s opinion did not bring changes to the laws on the books. Efforts to impose restrictions failed to pass through the General Assembly earlier this year with Democrats holding a slight majority in the state Senate.

That edge will stay in place until the Virginia Senate elections in November 2023, but one Democrat in the closely divided chamber has previously voiced support for an abortion ban.

That lawmaker, state Sen. Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond), said while he opposes abortion he doesn’t believe the government “should be telling women what to do with their bodies.” But he didn’t close the window for a potential ban.

“As many know, I am personally opposed to abortion, just like Senator Tim Kaine,” Morrissey said in a June 24 statement. “Still, I defend the position that women should have safe access to the procedure, at the very least, up to the moment a fetus can feel pain which many agree is 20 plus weeks of a pregnancy; in cases when a mother’s health or life is at risk; in cases of rape that result in a pregnancy; and in cases of incest that result in a pregnancy.”

Stay with 8News for updates.



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