Virginia governor vetoes, approves abortion-related measures

(OSV News) -- Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin's office announced April 5 that among more than 100 pieces of legislation considered by the Republican governor, he had vetoed and approved a number of bills related to abortion. The state's Catholic bishops praised several of the governor's vetoes while calling on the General Assembly to "reverse the extremely harmful path it chose this year."

Youngkin vetoed so-called "shield" legislation that supporters said would implement legal protections for women and medical practitioners from potential extraditions from other states related to abortion, which is legal in Virginia up through the second trimester.

Youngkin said in a veto message that the U.S. "cooperative extradition system could collapse if individual states were to carve out crimes for which they would not recognize codified laws because of differing political positions."

In a move that surprised some political observers, the governor also signed separate legislation supported by abortion rights groups that blocks the use of search warrants, subpoenas or court orders to obtain digital menstrual health data, such as data stored in fertility or reproductive health monitoring apps. Some fear such data could be used to prosecute women suspected of having undergone abortions.

Youngkin's office said the governor vetoed 11 bills, "including bills that would put women's health at risk and weaken the Commonwealth's culture of life by undermining the oversight duties of the Board of Medicine."

In a joint statement, Virginia's Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington and Bishop Barry C. Knestout of Richmond, said they "welcome and are very grateful for Governor Youngkin's vetoes of SB 15, SB 716, HB 519, and HB 1539."

"These bills would have given abortion providers who violate other states' pro-life laws an unprecedented safe harbor in Virginia," the bishops said.

The pair added that Youngkin's "rejection of these bills respects decisions other states have made to protect life."

"Of particular importance, the Governor's action prevents abortion providers in Virginia from prescribing and mailing chemical abortion drugs to women and girls in other states without being subject to consequences for violating those states' laws," they said, noting that medication-based abortions are "now the most common form of abortion in the United States."

"As Governor Youngkin's vetoes have made clear, it would be dangerous and wrong to give abortion and those who provide it an elevated protected status in Virginia law," they said.

The bishops called on the state Legislature to desist from advancing abortion and focus in future sessions on enacting "policies that would protect mothers and their children from the tragedy of abortion, and that provide pregnant women and new mothers and families the support they need."

- - - Kate Scanlon is a national reporter for OSV News covering Washington. Follow her on X (formerly known as Twitter) @kgscanlon.