Public Comments for: HB744 - Killing the fetus of another; guilty of manslaughter, penalties.
My Delegate: Schuyler Van Valkenburg Greetings. My name is Heather Massey and I’m a resident of Glen Allen. I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts with you about an important legislative issue. As a Virginia resident who strongly believes that healthcare is a personal matter and who has benefited from decades of access to legal, unrestrictive reproductive healthcare, I’m writing in opposition to HB744. I oppose this bill because of its intrusive and destructive nature: not only would it be used to control pregnant people and people who have miscarriages, it would criminalize them as well. I’m a person with a uterus who needed to terminate a pregnancy at a young age because I was too poor to properly raise a child. Having access to a full range of reproductive healthcare was a major factor in my ability to prepare for a time later in life when I eventually acquired the full resources I needed to raise a child without having to constantly worry about having enough money. I value having had that kind of safety net because it gave me control over my own life every step of the way. Everyone with a uterus in this state is entitled to the same control and choices I had. It’s crucial that we protect the progress Virginia has made on reproductive healthcare access and I appreciate the excellent work you’ve done so far as my Delegate. This progress is especially important for the most marginalized of Virginians, all of whom deserve access to a full range of reproductive healthcare that doesn’t impinge in any way on their personal rights. Therefore, I urge you to please oppose HB744. Thank you for your time and consideration of this important matter.
Good morning. My name is Elena Malkov, and I am a resident of Richmond, Virginia. My Senator is Ghazala Hashmi. My Delegate is Dawn Adams. I am testifying today in opposition of HB744. Threatening abortion providers with a voluntary manslaughter charge is a horrific way to prevent Virginians from accessing basic healthcare in a safe manner. Criminalizing abortion will not prevent the procedure from being done, but it will increase the number of unsafe, illegal abortions. The Virginia government should not interfere with the right of its citizens to receive the medical care they need. I urge you to support the rights of pregnant Virginians and their medical providers by opposing HB744.
I do not support any bills that criminalize folks
The ACLU of Virginia strongly opposes House Bill 744 (HB744) because of the potential for criminalizing personal, private reproductive healthcare choices and adding charges for accidents when someone does not know an individual is pregnant with little to no benefit to public safety. We are deeply concerned with the implications this bill would have for a pregnant person’s ability to choose reproductive care that best fits their needs. Such limitations may infringe upon an individual’s constitutional right to privacy, equal protection, and due process. For example, many parents and pregnant people prefer to hire midwives to deliver their baby in the comfort of their homes. However, under this bill, a midwife would be charged with manslaughter if a woman gives birth at home with the midwife contrary to a doctor’s order – regardless of the circumstances. Every person who becomes pregnant struggles through mounds of information, social pressure and judgment, including medical advice from multiple and occasionally dissenting providers, in a sincere effort to make sound choices about their pregnancy. Thus, HB 744 potentially criminalizes them for decisions made in good faith or make it harder for them to seek the reproductive healthcare that fits their needs. It is a tragedy anytime a pregnant person loses a pregnancy due to the criminal actions of another. But our legal system already punishes that person for their crimes. A pregnant person in Virginia already has recourse that respects their agency and autonomy. Virginia Code § 8.01-50(B) provides for a civil tort action against a tortfeasor who causes a fetal death, as defined in § 32.1-249, by his wrongful act, neglect, or default. The physical and psychological injuries ultimately fall on the person losing a pregnancy, not on the fetus. The current law is sufficient in holding the wrongdoer accountable without potentially infringing on the pregnant person’s rights as proposed in HB 744. The bill also conflicts with a fundamental principle of criminal law, which holds that knowledge of the underlying fact that renders one's act subject to penalty is essential to conviction. Yet, under this bill, a person could be held criminally responsible for the death of a fetus even if the person did not know, and had no reason to know, that the person was pregnant. It is for these reasons we oppose HB 744 and urge you to vote “no.”
Please keep choices available for women to terminate unwanted pregnancies.