What does Roe’s overruling mean for Virginia?

Published: Jun. 24, 2022 at 5:24 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The Supreme Court announced its decision to overrule Roe v. Wade Friday, June 24 at around 10 a.m.

Some are unclear what the ruling means at a national and state level. J. Miles Coleman with the UVA Center for Politics said it’s important to remember this is not a national ban on abortion.

The ruling allows states to decide abortion laws on their own. Whether or not abortion will be protected is up to the state.

Coleman likened it to how the pandemic was handled as each state took different measures.

“When the pandemic was becoming a thing, the states handled it differently. They put different types of restrictions in. Now abortion, with our federal system, that’s going to be how it is,” he said.

While some states put in stronger restrictions, others were more lax. There will be a clear difference in states’ abortion laws. Some states, like Tennessee and Kentucky, have trigger laws. For some states, abortion will soon be restricted.

“As soon as Roe falls, abortion is illegal. That’s happening in several red states across the country,” he said.

No trigger laws exist in Virginia; however, no state law protects abortion, either. Coleman said with a Republican majority in the House, there may be action on trying to restrict abortion.

The Democrat-controlled Senate would likely shut that down, though. For now, abortion is legal in the commonwealth. Future elections will be very important as deciding factors in the future.

“Both chambers of the legislature are gonna be up in 2023, so I think it depends on how those elections go. That’s going to be a very big factor in kind of the future of abortion in the state of Virginia,” Coleman said.

Many say the ruling has future implications on other Supreme Court decisions. Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized gay marriage, and Griswold v. Connecticut, which legalized contraception, for example, were mentioned in opinions for the ruling.

“Some think the Supreme Court is taking a hand, they’re going to take an arm next. It’s going to be sort of a slippery slope. If they’re coming for abortion today, then some of the conservatives are maybe setting the groundwork for going after gay marriage next,” said Coleman.

Coleman also said it’s very possible for states like Virginia, where abortion remains legal, to see an increase in people visiting to pursue the procedure.

“Two of our neighbors, Kentucky and Tennessee, they both have trigger laws. We could see an influx of women coming through Southwest Virginia to some of our clinics here.”

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