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Youngkin would cut state funding for certain abortions

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Gov. Glenn Youngkin proposed 38 budget amendments for lawmakers to consider.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin wants to end state funding for abortions in which a fetus has been diagnosed with severe deformities or mental deficiencies.

The governor made the proposal Wednesday evening in one of his 38 budget amendments that the General Assembly will consider Friday when lawmakers convene in Richmond.

Youngkin press secretary Macaulay Porter said the governor does not want Virginians to pay for any abortion unless payment is required by federal law. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia said the proposal would affect low-income women, who would be forced to suffer through pregnancies that can end with a stillbirth.

State law says the Board of Health must fund abortions for women who meet financial criteria in situations where a doctor certifies “the fetus will be born with a gross and totally incapacitating physical deformity or with a gross and totally incapacitating mental deficiency.”

Virginia already denies state funding of abortion for people receiving Medicaid except in cases of rape, incest, when their life is at risk and in cases of incapacitating fetal diagnoses.

The budget says: “No expenditures from general or nongeneral fund sources may be made out of any appropriation by the General Assembly for providing abortion services, except otherwise as required by federal law or state statute.”

Youngkin proposes to cut the three words, “or state statute,” which would end state funding of abortion for incapacitating diagnoses.

According to Planned Parenthood, the state paid for 21 such abortions in fiscal 2021.

Jamie Lockhart, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, issued a statement calling the proposal “cruel.”

“Wealthy women, and others with financial resources who can become pregnant, will always be able to end a pregnancy after receiving a fatal diagnosis. This amendment will disproportionately impact people of color who will be forced to carry pregnancies that will result in a stillbirth or in the birth of a baby incompatible with life,” she said in the statement.

Lawmakers who vote for the amendment are forcing poor woman into pregnancies “fraught with suffering,” Planned Parenthood said.

The organization, REPRO Rising Virginia, formerly NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, also issued a statement saying they’d hold accountable any lawmaker who voted for the amendment.

The organization Virginia Society for Human Life is urging lawmakers to back the amendment, noting that Virginia law requires payment for abortions beyond what the federal Hyde Amendment requires.

Youngkin’s amendment is “a simple but important change that we need to ask our legislators to support,” the organization said in a statement. “Virginia should stop paying for abortions with state taxpayer dollars to the fullest extent possible by adopting the Hyde Amendment in our state budget.”

The abortion funding debate in Virginia comes ahead of this summer’s landmark decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade, which would leave abortion laws up to the states.

pwilson@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6061

Twitter: @patrickmwilson

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pwilson@timesdispatch.com; (804) 649-6061; Twitter: @patrickmwilson

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