January 17, 2012 — Democrats in the Virginia General Assembly are speaking out against a new bill (HB 1) that would define "personhood" as starting at the moment of conception, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. Democrats said the bill would ban abortion, as well as certain forms of contraception.

Democratic Party of Virginia Chair Brian Moran called the bill "a blatant attack on women's constitutional rights to make their own health care choices" (Nolan, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/13). State Sen. Donald McEachin (D) said the legislation is part of a larger attempt by Republicans at the state and federal levels to restrict abortion rights.

The bill's sponsor, Del. Bob Marshall (R), introduced a similar measure last year. The bill was approved by the Republican-led House but died in committee in the Democrat-controlled Senate (Sizemore, Virginian-Pilot, 1/13). This year, the Senate is evenly divided, but the Republican lieutenant governor can cast a tie-breaking vote.

On Thursday, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) reiterated his opposition to abortion rights but said his staff would review the bill to determine its constitutionality (Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/13).