Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe promised to veto legislation banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, saying such a “socially divisive” proposal hurts the state's image.
The legislation, proposed by a Republican delegate, mirrors similar measures supported by congressional Republicans and one signed into law in Ohio last month. Abortion-rights opponents have been emboldened by the election success of Donald Trump and the Republican Party and plan a broad push both at the state and federal level this year.
McAuliffe, a Democrat, told The Associated Press Tuesday he wants to send a clear message to the Republican-controlled General Assembly not to “waste time” trying to be part of that effort.
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The General Assembly's 2017 legislative session starts next week and McAuliffe does not typically comment on proposed legislation until after it passes both chambers. But the governor said he needed to make clear to companies looking to invest in Virginia that the legislation had no hope of passage.
“I can't sit back and have that sitting out the same time I am traveling the globe recruiting businesses to Virginia,” McAuliffe said, adding that he is going on an important recruiting trip this weekend. “If there's something that would be damaging toward business, and to our image around the country and the globe, I'll veto it, you bet I will.”
He also noted that he has a perfect record of having his vetoes upheld in the General Assembly.
The abortion legislation failed to pass the House last year, but the bill's sponsor, Del. Dave LaRock said public support is growing.
“It's outrageous for a person with any compassion to turn a blind eye while this torture takes place,” LaRock said.
The legislation is based on the assertion fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks, which opponents characterize as scientifically unsound.
Kentucky Republicans also introduced a 20-week abortion ban Tuesday, along with a requirement that women undergo ultrasounds before having abortions. With overwhelming House and Senate majorities and control of the governor's office, these bills are considered likely to pass.