VIRGINIA REPEALS DECADES OF BARRIERS TO ABORTION ACCESS
Planned Parenthood Action Fund media office, [email protected]; 212-261-4433
Rae Pickett, Communications Director, [email protected]; 202-378-3526
For Immediate Release: Feb. 27, 2020 (Updated: Feb. 27, 2020, 7:42 p.m.)
Newly elected reproductive health majorities in Virginia just expanded abortion access and removed decades worth of politically motivated, medically unnecessary abortion restrictions.
Richmond, VA — Today, the newly elected reproductive health majorities in the Virginia General Assembly passed the Reproductive Health Protection Act. This historic legislation repeals numerous abortion restrictions that, for decades, have created medically unnecessary barriers for patients seeking safe, legal abortion throughout the Commonwealth. The bill — which the governor of Virginia is expected to sign into law — removes medically unnecessary 24-hour waiting periods, mandatory ultrasounds, bans on qualified advanced practice clinicians in providing abortions, among other restrictions.
This is the first bill in Virginia that expands abortion access since voters elected reproductive health majorities in both chambers this past November. Combined, these abortion restrictions formed an obstacle course of burdens for patients in the state to overcome — especially for people of color, people with disabilities, people with low incomes, and immigrants who already face systemic barriers to reproductive health care.
The passage comes one week before the Supreme Court hears oral arguments on another type of medically unnecessary regulation of providers designed to make abortion hard or impossible to access. The Supreme Court case, June Medical Services v. Russo, could determine the future of abortion access in states where anti-abortion politicians are pushing harmful restrictions and regulations.
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:
“Virginians show us that elections matter. Last November, voters in the Commonwealth rejected an inflammatory campaign to ban abortion and sent reproductive rights majorities in both chambers to Richmond. Today, those majorities mark a new chapter in the state by passing the Reproductive Health Protection Act and ensuring every person can access reproductive health care. This is the power of the people’s voice. As the Trump administration does all it can to make abortion inaccessible, it’s more critical than ever for states to step up and fight to protect abortion access.”
Statement from Jamie Lockhart, executive director, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia:
“Virginia voters spoke loudly and clearly in November when they voted to elect pro-reproductive health legislators to the Senate and House. Virginians believe the decision to have an abortion should be between the patient, their medical provider, and those they love and trust — not by the General Assembly.
“When this legislation goes into effect, Virginians will no longer have to navigate an obstacle course of delays and barriers in order to access a safe and legal abortion. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia knows that the individuals seeking reproductive health care across the Commonwealth, including abortion, deserve to do so with dignity and without delay. There is more work to do to ensure that the right to bodily autonomy is protected in Virginia, and we are proud of the work our champions have done so far.”
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia joined advocates from across the Commonwealth including Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, Latina Institute for Reproductive Health-Virginia, Progress Virginia, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia and countless others in their long fight to roll back medically unnecessary restrictions to abortion care.
The Trump administration’s attacks on birth control and other reproductive health care have spurred backlash across the country. A record-high 77 percent of Americans say they do not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned, and there is no state where making abortion illegal is popular.
Last year, anti-abortion politicians introduced more than 300 abortion restrictions in nearly every state in the country. Reproductive rights supporters have been galvanized by these attacks — advocating for policies that would expand health care access and enshrine protections for abortion into state law, with major legislation passing in Illinois, New York, Rhode Island, Maine, and several other states. In fact, one-quarter of all policies that seek to expand abortion access since Roe v. Wade were enacted last year.