Column – Former Virginia Del. concerned with Reproductive Freedom Amendments

Published 5:13 pm Tuesday, January 23, 2024

By: Former Del. Bob Marshall (Represented Virgnia’s 13th District from 1992 to 2018)

One of the most concerning actions taken by Democrats during the 2023 General Assembly elections was their announcement to introduce a Constitutional Amendment to establish abortion as a constitutional right. Unfortunately, they followed through by introducing identical Reproductive Freedom Constitutional Amendments (RFCA): Del. Charniele L. Herring’s House Joint Resolution 1 and Sen. Jennifer Boysko’s Senate Joint Resolution 1.
The RFCAs contain 174 words, and their legal implications hinge solely on the text within the RFCA itself—not on speeches, press releases, or Planned Parenthood briefings. The scope of these amendments extends far beyond what I discuss here.
North Carolina Congressman Robert Harper, born in Caroline County, stated in 1796, “Courts, when called upon to interpret acts of Legislatures, do not resort to the debates that preceded them, to the opinions of members about their meaning, but rather inspect the act itself, and decide based The first sentence of the RFCA declares, “Every individual has the fundamental right to reproductive freedom.” 

The term “individual” logically encompasses males, females, minors (under 18), and adults. The Democrats could have modeled their RFCA after the VA Constitution Article 2, Section 1, which stipulates that only persons 18 and over may vote.
However, the Democrats’ RFCA does not specify that reproductive rights begin at age 18. Consequently, minor children could legally obtain and use birth control, abortion, sterilization, or undergo sex changes by their own consent. This amendment would render parental notice or consent illegal for these practices, effectively abolishing the age of sexual consent.
Under this framework, Virginia’s laws protecting minors from predatory adults in cases of sexual trafficking would become unenforceable, as minors would have the legal capacity to “consent” to any sexual behavior. The same adult privileges to legally purchase pornography, films, sexual devices, etc., would extend to minors. Furthermore, laws prohibiting prostitution would be seen as unconstitutional restraints on “reproductive freedom” since individuals, including minors, would possess a fundamental right to sexual relations.
Parents would lose any legal means to prosecute adult predators targeting their children, as the RFCA states: “…nor shall the Commonwealth penalize, prosecute, or otherwise take adverse action against an individual who aids or assists another individual, with such individual’s voluntary consent, in the exercise of such individual’s right to reproductive freedom.”
If you are concerned about protecting the innocence of your children or grandchildren, demand that your delegate and senator vote No on HJR1 or SJR1.


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