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Va. assembly to debate proposed 'personhood' bill

Sunday - 1/15/2012, 8:28am  ET

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

RICHMOND, Va. - A proposed "personhood" bill in Virginia's General Assembly could spark debate that may leak over to the Presidential campaign.

HB-1 is a so-called "personhood" bill which would expand the definition of the word "person" under Virginia law to include unborn children.

The bill states "The life of each human being begins at conception." and "Unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being."

"What it proposes, that as soon as there's a fertilized egg, that's a person" says Delegate Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, who opposes the bill.

She says it could make abortion illegal in Virginia and limit some forms of contraception. She says the bill is "ignorant of science."

The bill was introduced by Delegate Bob Marshall, R-Manassas. He says it is modeled after a law in Missouri which has withstood court challenges.

Marshall, a vocal critic of abortion rights, has just announced he is running for the republican nomination for the U.S. Senate.

Opponents of the bill say it would make certain forms of birth control illegal, including those forms of contraception that stop the implantation of the egg into a woman's uterus after fertilization.

State Senator Dick Black, R-Loudoun, who supports the bill, says there's never been a bill introduced in the Virginia General assembly to limit birth control.

"I don't think that's the way birth control works, I don't know," he says.

The bill is similar to the "personhood" amendment that was defeated last year by voters in Mississippi.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)