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Efforts to protect abortion rights ramp up in Virginia as Governor Youngkin doubles down on 15-week ban

A group that helps transport patients to abortion appointments in Virginia sees more volunteers.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin is doubling down on his support for a 15-week abortion ban. In a recent interview on CBS’ Face the Nation, Youngkin maintained his belief that life begins at conception.

Youngkin did not say whether he supports a full ban but is proposing a ban on abortions after 15 weeks to compromise with Democrats, who currently have control of the Virginia Senate.

“I called for a 15-week pain threshold bill to be formed and crafted by a bipartisan group of legislators,” Youngkin said. “I think this is what it’s all about. This is a moment for our country to have a discussion around this and each state will decide something different. And I think that’s the real value of the Supreme Court decision.”

Unlike fellow Republicans, Youngkin supports exception for rape, incest and the life of the mother. He said he came to that conclusion after he reflected on his faith and personal beliefs.

“The reality is, as a pro-life governor in a state like Virginia, where I have a Senate that’s controlled by Democrats and a House that’s controlled by Republicans, we have to find a way to get things done,” he said.

A poll released by Roanoke College in June, before the Supreme Court decision, found only 11% of Virginians believe abortion should be fully illegal.

The poll said 35% of Virginians believed abortion should be legal under any circumstances, while 53% believed it should be legal under some circumstances.

The recently rebranded REPRO Rising Virginia also released a poll that found 77% of Virginia voters believe personal decisions about pregnancy should not be made by politicians.

Executive Director Tarina Keene said the organization is working with lawmakers Delegate Charniele Herring and Virginia Senator Jennifer McClellan, who both helped pass the 2020 Reproductive Health Protection Act, to amend the state constitution to explicitly say abortion is a right.

“Here in Virginia we are in limbo,” Keene said. “While we know majority of Virginians actually support people being able to make their own personal healthcare decisions when it comes abortions, we neither have a ban or a right, so we want to fix that.”

The organization also has a volunteer group called Practi-Cab, which trains people to provide emotional support and transportation to abortion appointments in Virginia.

The effort started in June 2021 with several volunteers but grew throughout the year, especially following the SCOTUS ruling on Roe.

“We have trained or an in the process training well over 100 volunteers to step forward and say they would provide transportation to folks who need to get their appointments across the state,” Keene added. “We expect this program will continue to grow especially as we see more people coming to the Commonwealth for their care.”

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden said he is considering declaring a public health emergency to open up federal resources to promote abortion access. It is a move that will likely face legal challenges.

In the wake of the ruling, Biden issued an executive order aiming to expand access to FDA approved abortion medication, protect online privacy and access to contraception, and provide legal help for patients and providers.

He has publicly stressed there is only so much he can do and urges people to vote in November.

RELATED: Northern Virginia governments take steps to protect abortion rights

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