The Governor of Virginia has signed into law two ‘progressive’ Bills on abortion, sexual orientation and ‘gender identity’.
The state’s new Reproductive Health Protection Act rolls back safeguards for unborn children. Mothers will no longer have to be offered an ultrasound and an opportunity to hear their child’s heartbeat at least 24 hours before going ahead with an abortion.
The state branded the protections “medically unnecessary restrictions on women’s healthcare”.
During a debate on the legislation, Delegate Kathy Byron said the Act denies mothers “complete information on what an abortion means, its consequences, its implications, its alternatives” leading them to be less informed on “one of the most important decisions that they ever make”.
Roman Catholic Bishops Michael Burbidge and Barry Knestout said: “Over the past eight years, abortions have decreased by 42% in Virginia. Tragically but undoubtedly, these changes to our state law will reverse that life-saving progress and increase the number of abortions.”
The following day, the Governor also signed into law the Virginia Values Act, which claims to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Critics have warned the Bill threatens free speech.
Gregory Baylor, Senior Legal Counsel for religious liberty group Alliance Defending Freedom, previously said that the Act is a “dangerous path” which coerces “uniformity of thought and speech on beliefs about marriage, sex, and gender”.
He explained that laws elevating sexual orientation and gender identity to protected classes “have a proven record of undermining both fairness and freedom for all citizens”.
He highlighted similar US laws which “have empowered the government to force people who willingly serve everyone to promote messages and participate in events that violate their faith or convictions”.
Last month, female MPs in the UK spoke out against the silencing of women by transgender activists.
The SNP’s justice spokeswoman, Joanna Cherry MP, said that Professor Selina Todd – accused of being ‘transphobic’ for challenging the narrative that transgenderism has been prevalent throughout history – had been censored “simply for asserting women’s rights”.
She added: “If we allow bullies to triumph over free speech in one area of public discourse, we are giving them free reign to triumph over free speech in other areas of public discourse”.
Jackie Doyle-Price MP commented that it is “not at all” transphobic to argue in favour of female-only spaces such as changing rooms.