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Virginia – abortion tourist trap

Virginia is already an abortion tourist trap with three neighboring States banning abortion and a fourth about to restrict it tightly.

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Virginia - abortion tourist trap

The State of Virginia is rapidly becoming an abortion tourist trap as a fourth State bordering it moves to restrict abortion further than its present laws allow.

Virginia – where women go to kill their unborn children

The Washington Bureau of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC or “the Beeb”) reported on this yesterday (May 19). According to them, Virginia already sees abortion tourists from States that restrict abortion far more tightly. After another neighboring State passed a new law limiting most abortions to twelve weeks, local abortion providers and advocates expect more such tourists.

Currently the State sees most abortion tourists from Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia. Those States ban abortion outright (see below for a definition of the verb “to ban” in this context). North Carolina currently allows abortion up to twenty weeks. But its legislature recently overrode a governor’s veto to pass a new law. Under it – as of July 1 – North Carolina will “restrict” abortion to twelve weeks or less.

Whole Women’s Health, an abortion provider network, and Planned Parenthood Advocates for Virginia both anticipate more out-of-State abortion seekers. Whole Women’s Health said they began to see abortion tourists come from Texas in 2021. Texas passed its Heartbeat Act, under which a private citizen could sue an abortion provider for doing an abortion either after the baby developed a heartbeat or the provider should have looked for one, but didn’t. No case under that law remains in any federal or State court. Most abortion providers stopped doing abortions at six weeks, and that explains the abortion tourism from Texas.

Where can one get an abortion?

NBC News has the best interactive and up-to-date map of abortion laws in various States that does not come from an advocate on either side. NBC’s cartographers define abortion as “legal” in a State if its laws permit abortion past twenty weeks. Bans at any gestational age from six weeks up to twenty weeks make abortion “restricted” in such States. If a State’s laws impose any tighter restrictions (with or without exceptions), the cartographers consider abortion “banned.”


The NBC cartographers consider abortion “legal” in Virginia. Then-Gov. Ralph Northam (D-Va.) and a completely Democratic General Assembly put the current laws in place. Current law allows abortion up to twenty-six weeks and six days. If at least three doctors certify that a mother’s “health” is at risk, she can get an abortion up to the moment of birth.

In November 2021, voters elected a Republican Governor (Glenn Youngkin) and “flipped” the House of Delegates. But the State Senate, which did not have elections, remains in Democratic hands. The Senate and House of Delegates will both be up for reelection this fall – with new district maps. Last January, Gov. Youngkin proposed a fifteen-week restriction on abortion – and it died in the Senate.

These State laws matter, of course, because the federal Constitutional “right” to abortion no longer exists. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, 597 US ____ (2022).

The mifepristone controversy

Whole Women’s Health presumably is also watching the case of Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine et al. v. FDA et al. That case involves an attempt to roll back the approval of mifepristone in 2000 – or failing that, to enforce the Comstock Act against sending mifeprisone by mail. Whole Women’s Health does an unspecified volume of mifeprisone mail-order shipments.

The two abortion provider and advocate networks in Virginia expect to serve more abortion tourists – thousands – in the coming months. This, they say, will lead to longer wait times. To alleviate this, they are trying to bring in more abortionists from the Baltimore-Washington areas and even from California.


The Beeb did not mention how the influx of abortion tourists might affect the Virginia election campaign.

If by some chance Virginia does “restrict” abortion in future, no doubt women will “play tourist” into Maryland and the District of Columbia, or on into Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

North Carolina’s new law goes into effect July 1. In four other States (Ohio, Indiana, Wyoming and Utah), abortion bans or restrictions are “pending.” In each case, a State judge has enjoined the operation of legal restrictions or bans. South Carolina already “restricts” abortion, and its legislature hopes to “restrict” it further, to six weeks. Again, a State judge might intervene.

Arizona, Georgia and Florida also “restrict” abortion. Idaho, the Dakotas, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia all “ban” it. In all other States, abortion remains “legal.”

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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