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Va. General Assembly update

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The Virginia General Assembly passed a final version of a bill that will abolish the death penalty in the commonwealth Feb. 22. The Senate voted 22-16 to pass the legislation, which the House of Delegates then approved on a 57-43 vote, according to the advocacy group Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. There is expected to be a public signing ceremony with Gov. Ralph Northam in April.

An earlier version of the bill passed both chambers in early February. In a statement with Richmond Bishop Barry C. Knestout, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge praised the decision. “We offer — and affirm the utmost need for — prayerful support for the families of victims of horrific crimes,” they said. “We also affirm, with clarity and conviction, the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: ‘(T)he death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.’ ”

Legislation that would expand abortion coverage in Virginia’s health exchange also is likely to be signed by Gov. Northam, who is pro-choice. The Virginia Catholic Conference, the lobbying arm of Virginia’s bishops, and Bishop Burbidge have spoken against the measure.

“Replacing the current life-saving restrictions on abortion with a policy of abortion coverage in our state exchange is drastic,” said Bishop Burbidge during his Feb. 2 “Walk Humbly Podcast.” “It will result in the tragic end to more unborn lives, and additionally in poll after poll, citizens do not want their tax dollars going toward abortion.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021