RICHMOND, Va. (WSET) - Virginia's attorney general is stepping into the ongoing fight over abortion and women's healthcare across the U.S.
We are seeing a disturbing wave of restrictive abortion laws being passed in states across the country.
Attorney General Mark Herring is leading 21 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief against South Carolina's six-week abortion ban.
The brief was filed in relation to Planned Parenthood South Atlantic v. Wilson and supports a lower court's ruling blocking the band, saying that South Carolina's ban harms women's healthcare.
“We are seeing a disturbing wave of restrictive abortion laws being passed in states across the country. These restrictive laws, like South Carolina’s, not only have serious negative effects on women’s healthcare overall, but they also force women to seek medical care in other states if they lose that access in their home state,” said Herring. “Reproductive healthcare decisions should be made between a woman and her healthcare provider – they should not be made by her government. As more laws restricting abortion access are passed in this country, I will do everything I can to fight them and ensure that a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion is protected.”
South Carolina passed the restriction, effectively banning abortions after six weeks and before many women even know they are pregnant, in February.
A temporary injunction was granted by a federal court after Planned Parenthood South Atlantic filed a suit challenging the restriction immediately after it was passed.
Herring argues that access to safe and legal abortion is an essential component of women’s healthcare and restrictive abortion laws, like the South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act, lead to worse health outcomes for women.
The coalition also argued in its amicus brief that similar laws have harmful effects on miscarriage treatment and other healthcare needs.
Reproductive healthcare decisions should be made between a woman and her healthcare provider – they should not be made by her government.
"South Carolina’s restrictive abortion laws will cause its citizens to seek abortion care in [neighboring states], potentially straining their healthcare systems," the amicus brief says. “Given that numerous states across the country have enacted similarly restrictive or more restrictive legislation than South Carolina’s Act[and] [i]f access to safe and lawful abortions were banned in large geographic portions of the country, it would create vast 'abortion deserts' in which access to abortion care may be unobtainable for many people due to the obstacles created by the sheer distance from lawful abortion care.”
Many Republican-led states have pushed forward with efforts to restrict access to abortions but have met roadblocks in court.
The Texas law prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity, which typically occurs around six weeks into a pregnancy and before most women are aware they are pregnant.
In order to evade federal courts, the Texas law allows private citizens to bring civil lawsuits in state courts against anyone involved in an abortion other than the patient.
Virginia's gubernatorial candidates voiced their opinions on the Texas law, making clear their positions on the debate.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe said he battled this issue in Virginia during his time as governor, vetoing every bill that stood in the way of women making decisions about their bodies. He said he will continue to fight on this issue.
"You know, I just fought this so hard before. We've got to stop telling women what to do with their own bodies," McAuliffe added.
Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin said he is pro-life but believes in some exceptions, something the Texas law doesn't allow for.
"For rape, incest and when the life of a mother is in jeopardy," Youngkin said.
Herring was joining by attorneys general from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia in the amicus brief against South Carolina's abortion ban.