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Northam signs bills to roll back abortion restrictions
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Northam signs bills to roll back abortion restrictions

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Virginia Governor Ralph Northam answers a question as he adresses his press briefing inside the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond, VA, Wednesday, April 8, 2020. In the background, right, is Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Daniel Carey, MD.

Gov. Ralph Northam has signed bills to roll back restrictions on abortion.

The governor on Friday signed Senate Bill 733 from Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, and House Bill 980 from House Majority Leader Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria. The bills are known as the Reproductive Health Protection Act.

“No more will legislators in Richmond — most of whom are men — be telling women what they should and should not be doing with their bodies,” Northam said in a statement. “The Reproductive Health Protection Act will make women and families safer, and I’m proud to sign it into law.”

The measures repeal the state's mandatory ultrasound law and 24-hour waiting period prior to abortion. They also roll back regulations signed in 2012 by then-Gov. Bob McDonnell, which opponents called TRAP legislation — or “targeted regulation of abortion providers.”

“This is about protecting Virginians’ health, rights, and basic dignity,” McClellan said. “Today, we have finally put an end to these medically unnecessary barriers to women's reproductive health care. Politicians should not interfere in women’s personal medical decisions, period.”

The bills prompted fierce debate in the House of Delegates and the Senate when they were passed in January. In the Senate, Sen. Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond, voted with Republicans against the bill.

Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax broke the 20-20 tie to pass the bill.

“Virginia women deserve access to healthcare free from interference from politicians,” Herring said. “Simply, this bill rolls back restrictions that are not evidence-based and presume that women have an inability to make their own healthcare decisions. I’m glad to see this bill signed into law.”

The bills will take effect July 1.

jmattingly@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6012

Twitter: @jmattingly306​

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