WLNI-GENERAL-ASSEMBLYRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Advocates on both sides of the abortion debate held events at the Capitol before the start of the 2016 General Assembly session. Several Democratic lawmakers, including Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, joined NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia to announce at a news conference Wednesday they had signed a  “statement of intent” in support of abortion rights. Shortly afterward, several dozen anti-abortion advocates held an outdoor rally expressing support for legislation that would lessen public funding of Planned Parenthood. Debates over social issues like abortion could be heated this session, but are unlikely to produce much movement. Republicans control both chambers of the General Assembly while Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe wields a veto pen. Four years ago, anti-abortion lawmakers caused a national uproar after proposing to mandate medically invasive exams prior to abortions.