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Despite Speaker Gilbert’s comments about not seeing anti-abortion legislation advance in 2023 and Sen.-elect Aaron Rouse’s special election victory, we’ve already seen lawmakers introduce several bills — including multiple abortion bans —  to restrict reproductive health care access. However, legislative champions have also introduced important bills to protect reproductive rights and health care access.

Statement from Jamie Lockhart, Executive Director, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia:

“Public opinion — and Tuesday’s special election results in Virginia’s seventh senate district — is clear: Virginians support protecting reproductive rights, including abortion access. Individuals should be trusted to make their own private health care decisions without the interference of politicians. 

Don’t be fooled by anti-abortion legislators’ attempts to make their bills seem reasonable. There’s nothing reasonable about banning abortion and taking away the power of Virginians to make their own health care decisions in consultation with their medical providers. If you need any sign of their true intent, look to the fact that Senator Newman is both the patron of the 15-week abortion ban and a co-patron of a total abortion ban. 

Virginians will hold anti-abortion legislators accountable for their support of abortion bans or any other bills aimed at blocking people from accessing essential health care. Any politicians who spend this legislative session trying to strip Virginians of their power over their own bodies, lives, and futures does so at their own peril.” 

Below is a list of legislation that Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia is closely monitoring: 

Bills to Restrict Reproductive Health Care Access

Total Abortion Ban SB1284 (Hackworth, Newman and Obenshain); HB1395 (March): These bills would ban abortion at fertilization and conception. Virginians should not have to justify their personal medical decisions, which they should be able to make privately in consultation with their health care provider – not politicians. Anti-abortion lawmakers are not medical experts, and they have no business interfering in Virginians’ health care. Furthermore, legislation like these bills could restrict a wide range of reproductive health care and open the door for prosecutions and investigations of pregnant people who experience pregnancy loss, like certain complications, miscarriage, or stillbirth.

15-Week Abortion Ban SB1385 (Newman); HB2278 (Byron): This bill would ban abortion after 15 weeks, denying a person the fundamental right to control their own body and private health care decisions. The goal of this ban, as with all abortion bans, is to stop people from accessing essential health care and to take away people’s power over their own bodies, their lives, and their futures. While politicians attempt to pass off a 15-week ban as a “compromise,” the truth is that there is no compromising on people’s rights. Whether presented with new medical information like a life-threatening diagnosis or delayed by existing restrictions that intentionally make it harder to get timely care, patients need access to abortion throughout pregnancy regardless of their circumstances. It’s also important to note that 15 weeks is far less than halfway through the typical 40-week pregnancy and a full two months before the viability line that had been established by Roe v. Wade.

Abortion Reason Ban HB1865 (Scott): This bill would ban abortion based on a person’s supposed reason for seeking one. This kind of disingenuous legislation has  never been about promoting equality. Instead, these bans are part of a larger campaign to stigmatize abortion and establish a framework to restrict access to care. They are just another means of controlling people’s bodies and lives, and this scrutiny sets a dangerous precedent for politicians to define “good” and “bad” reasons for seeking essential health care. No lawmaker can fully know another person’s unique medical needs and individual circumstances, and Virginians must be able to make their own personal health care decisions free from punishment, judgment, or political interference. 

Biased Counseling Bill HB2270 (Greenhalgh): This bill would reinstate mandated biased counseling before an abortion, forcing providers to give patients medically inaccurate information and threatening them with criminal penalties. This legislation is another attempt to shame and stigmatize patients, and it puts politicians in the middle of private medical decisions that should be left to each patient and their health care provider. 

So-called “Born Alive” Legislation HB1795 (Freitas): So-called “born alive” bills peddle misinformation about abortion to address a made-up problem. Deceptive and deliberately misleading bills like this are completely unnecessary and are nothing more than scare tactics used to further stigmatize abortion. Medical professionals are already obligated to provide appropriate medical care. To suggest otherwise is false, offensive, and dangerous.

Defund Planned Parenthood and other Reproductive Health Care Providers HB1488 (McGuire): Would prevent Planned Parenthood and all institutions that provide abortion from providing other critical reproductive health care and programs, like the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program and free birth control. The intended impact of all defund bills is to eliminate access to care through Planned Parenthood health centers. Anti-abortion politicians are willing to cut off access to the wide range of essential reproductive care and primary care that Planned Parenthood health centers provide to tens of thousands of Virginians. Further, the bill would remove the ability for the state to provide funds for abortions for low-income Virginians in rare circumstances. 

HOV Personhood Bill HB1894 (Freitas): This bill would count a fetus as a car passenger in HOV lanes, which does nothing to help pregnant people and opens the door for more dangerous policies with potentially far-reaching implications on IVF and common forms of birth control. Any proposal to bestow personhood status on a fetus is extreme, out of line with mainstream science and medicine, and out of touch with the will of the majority of Virginians. Attempts to pass “personhood” laws are part of the broader agenda toward the ultimate goal of banning abortion and restricting access to essential health care.

Anti-Reproductive Health Care Budget Amendments

Governor Youngkin’s Budget Amendment to Criminalize Health Care Providers

Youngkin included $50,000 to establish a 15-week abortion ban.

Governor Youngkin Budget Amendment - Strips Funding, Fetal Diagnoses

Governor Youngkin proposed a budget for the Commonwealth that would ban Virginians eligible for Medicaid from receiving funding to end pregnancies with severe, oftentimes fatal, fetal diagnoses. Virginia denies state funding to Medicaid-eligible pregnant people who seek an abortion except in cases of rape, incest, when their life is at risk, and in cases of incapacitating fetal diagnoses. This budget removes fetal diagnoses from this list, interfering with low-income Virginians’ fundamental right and resources to make decisions about their health and families. 

Bills to Increase Reproductive Health Care Access

Constitutional Amendment to Protect Reproductive Freedom SJ255 (McClellan, Boysko); HJ519 (Herring): Establishes that reproductive freedom, including the right to make decisions about one’s own pregnancy, is a fundamental right. The amendment creates an affirmative right to a spectrum of reproductive health care services, including abortion and contraception. Such rights are recognized as critical to an individual's liberty and full participation in our society.

Other bills we’re tracking that would expand access to reproductive health care and protect health care providers and patients:

 

In Case You Missed It: Recent PPAV Statements

 

For more information on PPAV’s legislative priorities or how to join PPAV’s email list, visit ppav.org or follow us on Instagram @PPAVA, Facebook and Twitter @PPAVirginia

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Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia (PPAV) is a statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to preserve and broaden access to reproductive health care through legislation, public education, electoral activity and litigation in the Commonwealth of Virginia. PPAV works to ensure that individuals and families have the freedom, information, and ability to make their own informed reproductive decisions.

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