PolitiFact VA: Nearly all abortions in Virginia take place during the first 15 weeks of pregnancy
Speaker: Rep. Bob Good
Statement: “Ninety-two percent of abortions in Virginia take place before 15 weeks.”
Date: July 9
Setting: Anti-abortion rally
U.S. Rep. Bob Good (R-Va) is urging Republicans to protect life from the moment of conception and reject Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s efforts to strike a compromise with Democrats that would ban most Virginia abortions at 15 weeks.
“Ninety-two percent of abortions in Virginia take place before 15 weeks,” Good said Saturday during a rain-soaked rally on Capitol Square.
Further angering Good, Younkin has also said the limit might have to be stretched to 20 weeks to gain needed bipartisan support in the General Assembly.
“Ninety-nine percent of abortions in Virginia take place before 20 weeks,” Good said. He accused Youngkin and a panel of Republican negotiators of being open to a deal that would ban only 1% of abortions in Virginia.
We fact-checked Good’s percentages and found that they are slightly understated.
Good’s campaign said his statistics come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most current CDC data shows there were 15,601 Virginia abortions reported in 2019 and 15,201 of them — or 97.5% — occurred at 15 weeks of pregnancy or earlier. That’s 5.5 percentage points higher than Good’s figure.
CDC records show 15,511 Virginia abortions in 2019 — or 99.4% — occurred at or before the 21st week. Rounded down, that matches Good’s figure. Another way of stating this: 90 of 15,601 abortions in Virginia — or 0.6% — occurred after Youngkin’s potential 20-week fallback position.
Here are the full CDC statistics on the number of 2019 abortions in Virginia based on weeks into pregnancy. Gestation, in this case, was determined by a clinician’s estimate of the date of conception.
- Six weeks or less, 7,917, or 50.8%;
- Seven to nine weeks, 5,215, or 33.5%;
- 10 to 13 weeks, 1,938, or 12.4%;
- 14 to 15 weeks, 121, or 0.8%;
- 16 to 17 weeks, 131, or 0.8%;
- 18 to 20 weeks, 179, or 1.1%;
- 21 weeks or more, 90, or 0.6%;
- 10 unreported conception dates.
Nationally, women have abortions slightly later than in Virginia: 42.9% of abortions occur during the first six weeks; 98.9% in the first 20 weeks.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision in June has given states new power in limiting or banning abortions. Prior to the court’s recent ruling, states had to allow abortions until the point of fetal viability — the time when a fetus could survive outside the womb — which occurs at about 23rd week of pregnancy.
Virginia allows abortions during the first two trimesters of pregnancy, or up to about 26 weeks. Third-trimester abortions are permitted only when three physicians certify that a continued pregnancy would likely cause the death of a woman or “substantially and irremediably impair [her] mental or physical health.”
Youngkin has consistently stressed that he is opposed to abortion except in cases of rape, incest and when a woman’s life is endangered by a pregnancy. Although he has mentioned drawing lines at 15 and 20 weeks, the governor said he would be willing to sign “any bill … to protect life.”
Virginia’s General Assembly is split, with Republicans controlling the House and Democrats ruling the Senate. Youngkin has asked a group of four Republican legislators to propose an abortion bill that could win needed bipartisan support. Leading Senate Democrats have vowed that no new abortion limits will make it to the floor.
Good, although not a member of the General Assembly, is urging no compromise on the opposite end of the abortion spectrum. In Congress, he is a cosponsor of “ The Life at Conception Act” that would recognize rights from the “moment of conception.”
Seeking to protect life from the moment of conception, Good said, “Ninety-two percent of abortions in Virginia take place before 15 weeks.” He slightly understated his case. According to CDC, 97.5% of Virginia abortions in 2019 — the latest year for which data was available — occurred at 15 weeks or earlier.
Good also said, “Ninety-nine percent of abortions take place in Virginia take place before 20 weeks.” The actual figure is 99.4% and Good accurately rounded it down.
All told, we rate Good’s comments Mostly True.
Bob Good, Speech at rally, July 9, 2022
Email from Diana Shores, Good’s campaign spokesperson, July 11, 2022
The Washington Post, “ Youngkin to seek 15-week abortion law in Virginia after Supreme Court ruling,” June 24, 2022
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “ Abortion Surveillance — United States, 2019,” Table 10
Code of Virginia, § 18.2-71 to § 18.2-76, accessed July 8, 2022
CONGRESS.GOV, H.R.1011 - Life at Conception Act, accessed July 11, 2022
Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, Discharge Position No. 16, June 22, 2022
The Hill, “ House Republicans weigh national abortion restrictions,” July 7, 2022