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With new AG, Virginia takes new position on abortion case

(AP) Virginia’s new attorney general has altered the state’s position on a closely watched abortion case before the U.S. Supreme Court, with his office now saying it should be left to individual states to decide on restrictions.

When Democrat Mark Herring was attorney general, the state joined more than 20 other states in a brief filed in September urging the justices to declare unconstitutional Mississippi’s law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Herring was a strong supporter of abortion rights.

Republican Jason Miyares, an abortion opponent, defeated Herring in November and took office last weekend.

Citing “the change in administration,” Miyares “has reconsidered Virginia’s position in this case,” Virginia Solicitor General Andrew Ferguson wrote Jan. 20 in declaring the state no longer adheres to that friend-of-the-court brief.

“Virginia is now of the view that the Constitution is silent on the question of abortion, and that it is therefore up to the people in the several states to determine the legal status and regulatory treatment of abortion,” Ferguson wrote to the clerk of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case last month.

Virginia’s position is now that the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which affirmed the constitutional right to an abortion, and the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey case, which reaffirmed Roe but set a new standard on evaluating restrictions, “were wrongly decided,” Ferguson added.

The letter was disclosed on the day of the annual March for Life in Washington. Miyares was part of a Republican sweep of Virginia’s top three offices in the fall in a state where a GOP candidate hadn’t won a statewide race since 2009.

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