Future of Va. 'Personhood' Bill in Doubt

November 28, 2012 — Virginia Senate Education and Health Committee Chair Sen. Steve Martin (R) this week is not expected to schedule a vote on a "personhood" bill (HB 1) that would grant rights to embryos, the Washington Examiner reports.

The Senate voted earlier this year to advance the legislation into the next session, but the committee faced a Nov. 29 deadline to refer it to the full Senate. Without action by Martin, the bill will not proceed.

Martin said he does not plan to summon lawmakers for a vote because Republicans on the committee lack the eight votes needed for a majority. "I'm not going to be spending taxpayers' dollars just to call us back into town," Martin said.

Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, said, "I don't know [that] they have the stomach for it this year," adding, "And with the election results in 2012, they would be wise to try to bury [such legislation]."

Del. Bob Marshall (R), the bill's author, said he plans to continue pursuing antiabortion-rights legislation, though he noted that GOP support for such measures is waning. Marshall -- who recently filed a bill that would ban sex-selective abortion -- said he is unsure whether he will submit another personhood bill (Contorno, Washington Examiner, 11/24).