- The Washington Times - Monday, February 13, 2012

RICHMOND — The Virginia House of Delegates on Monday gave preliminary approval to a so-called “personhood” measure defining life as beginning at conception, perhaps the most far-reaching proposed measure on abortion introduced thus far during the 2012 General Assembly session.

The measure from Delegate Robert G. Marshall follows a statute that has been on the books for over 20 years in Missouri.

“This is not a criminal statute,” said Mr. Marshall, Prince William Republican. “It does not have the effect of criminalizing miscarriage or birth control.”

Delegate Joseph D. Morrissey, Henrico Democrat, asked Mr. Marshall if it was his ultimate intention to outlaw abortion.

Mr. Marshall, one of the most ardently pro-life members of the House of Delegates, said one would have to be “completely obtuse” not to understand that’s what he’s been trying to do for the past 20 years.

Delegate Vivian E. Watts, Fairfax Democrat, unsuccessfully tried to add an amendment to the bill to ensure that contraception would remain legal under the legislation.

“There are over 25,000 references to ‘person’ in the Virginia Code, and numerous untold impacts upon the laws of the commonwealth as a result of the passage of HB1,” said Delegate Charniele L. Herring, Alexandria Democrat and a member of the House Courts of Justice committee, referring to the bill by its legislative number. “This bill will affect everything from the laws of inheritance to redistricting. It is unfortunate that the proponents of HB1 did not listen to or address our concerns.”

Voters in Mississippi rejected a ballot amendment last November that dealt with a similar provision.

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