Governor Drags Feet on Reproductive Health Bills, Appoints Anti-Choice Extremist To State Board of Health

Richmond, Virginia—By the close of the 2024 General Assembly session, legislators had passed a number of bills to protect the life, health, and autonomy of pregnant people, as well as pro-family pieces of legislation like paid family and medical leave. These bills are currently languishing unsigned on Governor Glenn Youngkin’s desk. However, the Governor did make a move this weekend to remind his anti-abortion base of his far-right bona fides when he appointed failed Congressional candidate Yesli Vega to the State Board of Health. The Board of Health, among other tasks, is charged with regulating facilities that perform abortions. The controversial Vega drew criticism during her 2022 run against Abigail Spanberger for her support of a total ban on abortion and emergency contraception, her suggestion that conservative states needed to “step in” to interfere with other states’ abortion laws, and for her statements questioning whether people who were raped could become pregnant. Vega, a member of the Prince William Board of Supervisors and a former police officer, has no formal medical training. 

”The idea that Governor Youngkin would appoint somebody so manifestly unqualified to the Board of Health is just more proof that he’ll use any method at his disposal to create a backdoor ban on abortion care” said LaTwyla Mathias, Executive Director of Progress Virginia. “The vast majority of our community supports abortion rights, and those people elected legislators who helped protect those rights this session.  Governor Youngkin doesn’t care about the democratic process if it gets in the way of what he really wants: a ban on abortion in Virginia. We’re not going to stand for that. We call on him to rescind this appointment, and we remind him that if he really wants to be a pro-family Governor, there are several excellent bills on his desk that would help support families in our community.”


The 2024 session of the General Assembly struck down several attempts to ban abortion, in whole or in part, in Virginia. Several reproductive health bills passed during session, including: 

  • SB 237, sponsored by Senator Ghazala Hashmi, which guarantees a right to contraception
  • SB 238 sponsored by Senator Ghazala Hashmi, which ensures health insurance coverage for contraception
  • HB 78, sponsored by Delegate Vivian Watts, which prohibits search warrants for being issued for personal menstrual health data 
  • HB 1539, sponsored by Delegate Marcus Simon, which ensures that abortion care providers will not be extradited to face trial in states with abortion restrictions. 
  • SB 118, sponsored by Senator Mamie Locke, which ensures that health insurance will cover doula care

The Governor has taken no action on any of these bills. He has 30 days from the end of session on March 13th to sign or veto most pieces of legislation.