WINCHESTER — About 50 people from Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church and other churches boarded a bus Thursday morning to travel to Richmond to attend the Virginia March for Life to protest attempts by Democratic state legislators to loosen abortion restrictions
The Associated Press reports that more than 1,000 activists attended the rally at the Virginia State Capitol to pressure lawmakers to vote against bills that will undo abortion regulations. The march was organized by various organizations, including the Virginia Catholic Conference and the Family Foundation.
“It’s a witness to what we stand for,” said Frances Moyer, a member of Sacred Heart’s Respect Life Committee. “We believe life is sacred from conception.”
Both the House of Delegates and the Senate have passed bills that will eliminate a 24-hour waiting period to have an abortion, as well as requirements that women seeking an abortion undergo an ultrasound, receive counseling, and be given a statement of the probable gestational age of the fetus. The legislation also absolves abortion facilities from regulations that set minimum standards for hospitals. Senate Bill 733 was introduced by Democratic Sen. Jennifer McClellan, while House Bill 980 was introduced by Democratic Del. Charniele L. Herring.
On her official Facebook page, McClellan has said her bill removes “unnecessary and onerous restrictions on a woman’s access to abortion care” and called it “a huge step forward for women’s reproductive rights in Virginia.”
HB 980 expands who can perform first trimester abortions to include physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners. Currently, only physicians can perform an abortion in Virginia. An amended version of the Senate bill would allow nurse practitioners, but not physician’s assistants, to perform abortions during the first trimester.
Cabell Angle, president of the New Eve Maternity Home in Winchester, said march participants hope to change hearts and minds.
“It’s a serious issue and it should be regulated,” he said. “There should be restrictions. We think the example set by political leaders is important.”
Angle said he opposes abortion in all cases, including rape and incest.
“We know it’s difficult but we still think that it’s a sacred human life,” Angle said.
Moyer said she opposes abortion in all cases, unless the life of the mother is at risk.
Karen O’Neil, who attends Fellowship Bible Church, joined the members of Sacred Heart on their trip to Richmond. She said she fears that removing the 24-hour waiting period could cause pregnant women to make a rash decision.
“It’s a decision that lasts your life,” O’Neil said. “You can’t undo it. Once it’s done it’s done. I think the ultrasound too is very important because a lot of these ladies in crisis will, when they see the ultrasound, they see the baby moving. It changes their heart and mind towards carrying out the pregnancy, which is God’s design. Once it’s started, you are not to unplug it.”
O’Neil said the March for Life was “respectful” and that several speakers encouraged the crowd.
“It was nice to be there and we were encouraged to follow up and not let it stop there,” O’Neil said.