Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signs law rolling back abortion restrictions

The governor repealed ultrasound and waiting period requirements for abortion procedures in the state.

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Ralph Northam in Virginia legislature
VA Gov. Ralph Northam
(Zach Gibson/Getty)
Updated: April 11, 2020 - 11:33am

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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has signed a law repealing several abortion restrictions in that state, a rollback engineered by the Democratic-controlled state legislature during its most recent term. 

The law, titled the Virginia Reproductive Health Protection Act, arose from two separate bills in Virginia's House of Delegates and Senate. Among its provisions was a repeal of the state's mandatory 24-hour waiting period prior to an abortion procedure, as well as a mandatory ultrasound requirement for any woman seeking an abortion. 

In a press release on his website, Northam declared himself "proud" to sign the repeal on Friday. 

"No more will legislators in Richmond—most of whom are men—be telling women what they should and should not be doing with their bodies," the governor said, claiming that the law "will make women and families safer." 

Also among the law's enactments was its removal of "language classifying facilities that perform five or more first trimester abortions per month as hospitals." Pro-choice activists widely viewed this as a measure to enforce onerous regulations on abortion clinics with an eye to closing many of them. 

State Democratic House Majority Leader Charniele Herring said that the regulations repealed by the new law were "not evidence-based." 

Northam came under fire from pro-life activists last year when he voiced his support for a late-term abortion bill. 

Remarking while on a radio show about abortions which involved "severe deformities" and "nonviable" fetuses, Northam said: "I can tell you exactly what would happen ...The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that's what the mother and the family desired. And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother."

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