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This man could decide women's rights in Virginia

Democratic Virginia State Senator Joe Morrissey finds himself as the potential swing vote in the abortion debate.

RICHMOND, Va. — Democratic State Senator Joe Morrissey of Richmond has a rare power in Virginia politics: he has leverage on the abortion debate.

"As one of those, perhaps deciding, members in the Senate, I absolutely promise, that I’m going to listen to both sides," said Sen. Morrissey.

If he doesn’t vote alongside his fellow Democrats, Republicans could have enough votes to pass new abortion restrictions. 

Senator Morrissey is no stranger to controversy.

The still-disbarred attorney was convicted in 2014 of having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old employee he later married. Then-Governor Northam later pardoned Morrissey for the misdemeanor conviction.

RELATED: Northam pardons scandal-scarred state Sen. Joe Morrissey

"I am personally opposed to abortion but I think it’s a very personal and intimate decision that has to be made between the woman and her partner, her doctor and perhaps her spiritual advisor," explained Sen. Morrissey.

It all comes down to a number of weeks. Currently, Virginia allows elective abortions up to 25 weeks of pregnancy, but the procedure is more restricted afterward. Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin has expressed support for banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, under a so-called “fetal pain" bill. However, fetuses can’t experience pain until at least 29 weeks according to the American Medical Association.

RELATED: Upcoming Virginia Senate elections could determine future of abortion in the Commonwealth

"I want to hear from the experts. If the fetus feels pain somewhere between 20 to 25 weeks, then maybe that might be a marker," explained Morrissey.

Since Democrats control the Virginia Senate, they have not allowed any Republican abortion rights bills to get out of the Senate Education and Health committee for a full vote. WUSA9 asked Sen. Morrissey whether he would use his leverage and leave the Democratic party to force that vote.

"Off the table," declared Morrissey. "I’m not going to caucus with Republicans. I’m very happy where I am caucusing with the Democrats."

Taking that possibility off the table simultaneously weakens Senator Morrissey’s leverage and strengthens the hand of Virginia abortion rights supporters.

WATCH NEXT: Capitol Police break up scuffle between abortion-rights and anti-abortion activists

The women's advocacy group Supermajority organized a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court but they were met by anti-abortion activists.

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