Legislation specifying that birth control is not abortion advances over Republican opposition

(Ned Oliver/ Virginia Mercury)

Legislation explicitly stating that the use of FDA approved birth control will not be considered abortion under state code cleared a House of Delegates committee on health care for the first time on a party-line vote, with Republican members opposing.

Del. Vivian Watts, D-Fairfax, said she’d proposed the legislation for the past four years and that other women in the General Assembly had carried it before her.

“The very fact that it has never passed underscores the need for this clarity,” she said.

The legislation is a response to “personhood” legislation pursued by some anti-abortion groups that aims to define conception as beginning at fertilization, which would have the effect of banning some common contraceptive methods that work by preventing the subsequent implantation of a fertilized egg.

One person spoke against the legislation, arguing along those lines for an earlier understanding of when a pregnancy begins.

A representative of the Medical Society of Virginia, which represents doctors around the state, spoke in favor of the legislation.

It will now go for a vote before the full House of Delegates.