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Biased Counseling & Mandatory Delay

A woman may not obtain an abortion until at least 24 hours after the attending or referring physician or a licensed professional or practical nurse working under the physician's direct supervision tells her, in person or by telephone, information that includes:  (1) a full, reasonable, and comprehensible medical explanation of the nature, benefits, risks of, and alternatives to the procedure; (2) probable gestational age of the fetus; (3) her right to speak to the attending physician; (4) an offer to review state-prepared materials, advising her that: (a) the state-prepared materials describe the "unborn child" and list agencies offering alternatives to abortion; (b) medical assistance benefits may be available for prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care and that more detailed information is available in the state-prepared materials; (c) the "father" of the "unborn child" is liable for child support even if he has offered to pay for the abortion, that assistance in the collection of such support is available, and that more detailed information is available in the state-prepared materials; and (d) she has a right to review the state-prepared materials.

The information about the state-prepared materials may be given by a licensed health-care professional working under the physician's direct supervision.  If the woman chooses to view the materials, the materials must be provided to her at least 24 hours before the abortion or mailed to her at least 72 hours before the abortion.

The state-prepared materials must:  (1) include a comprehensive list, including names and telephones numbers, of geographically indexed public and private agencies and services available to assist the woman through pregnancy, upon childbirth, and while the child is dependent including, but not limited to, adoption, paternity establishment and child support enforcement, child development, child rearing and stress management, and pediatric and maternal health care, or must provide a toll-free 24-hour telephone number to obtain the list orally; (2) describe with realistic and appropriate pictures or drawings the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the fetus at two-week increments, including survival rates; and (3) describe the common methods of abortion and the medical risks associated with each, the "possible detrimental psychological effects" of abortion, and the medical risks associated with carrying a pregnancy to term.

Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-76 (Enacted 1997; Last Amended 2003).

In 2003, the Virginia legislature passed a law amending the current biased-counseling law to require that state-prepared materials must include information on adoption.  Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-76 (Enacted 1997; Last Amended 2003).

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