Virginia Senate passes pro-women legislation; anti-choice clowns in mourning.

Richmond, Virginia—Reproductive freedom advocates and activists celebrated today’s reproductive health and rights victory as members of the Virginia Senate Education and Health Committee voted to pass the Reproductive Health Protection Act, SB733, introduced by Senator McClellan. This comes after yesterday’s win where members of the House Courts of Justice Committee voted to pass the companion bill, HB980. 

This bill would roll back the medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion access put in place by anti-choice politicians that have no basis in medicine or patient health and safety. This includes overturning the forced, medically unnecessary ultrasound requirement, the 24-hour mandatory delay, which often stretches for far longer, and the state-based mandated biased counseling. It also includes rolling back the Targeted Restrictions of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws, that unfairly single out abortion providers and the restriction that blocks qualified Advanced Practice Clinicians (APC) from providing abortion early in pregnancy, despite their rigorous post-graduate training and extensive clinical experience. 

For over two decades, anti-choice legislators in Virginia have held control of the state House and Senate and have passed a series of laws that intentionally make it difficult for people across the Commonwealth to access abortion and other reproductive health services. 

“When we voted in November, we cast our ballots for legislators who would protect and expand access to abortion and the full range of reproductive health services. We’re thrilled to see that legislators are keeping their campaign promises and voting to support the Reproductive Health Protection Act,” Anna Scholl, Executive Director of Progress Virginia, said. “Passing this bill is the first step towards a Virginia where everyone has the opportunity to thrive in our communities and the ability to choose whether, how and when to start a family. We will continue to watch to ensure that this bill is passed by the full House and Senate so that everyone in our community can access the health care they need when they need it, including abortion.”

“We are one step closer to reproductive health care being back in the hands of a patient and their physician,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, President and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health and Whole Woman’s Health Alliance.  We eagerly await the end of unnecessary waiting periods, invasive ultrasounds, and arbitrary laws that make abortion care inaccessible in the Commonwealth. Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures in the United States and today our legislators agreed.”

Jamie Lockhart, Executive Director Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia said, “For too long, the Virginia General Assembly has put up roadblocks for women seeking abortion care. We stand united with the new majority of legislators who support reproductive rights. Today’s commitment from Virginia legislators are not just to the many Virginians who need and deserve access to abortion care, but for the many advanced practice clinicians who are providing that care across the Commonwealth. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia look forward to a Commonwealth of Virginia where once a person has decided to seek abortion care, they are able to do so without delay and under the care of a clinician they know and trust. Legislative champions have fought for years to remove these unnecessary restrictions this step forward today and we are grateful for their continued leadership.” 

“Virginia women have waited long enough and the overwhelming majority of voters in Virginia—72%—trust a woman to make her own reproductive healthcare decisions. Virginia voters made that clear in November, when they made history by electing the first pro-choice majority General Assembly.” Tarina Keene, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, said. “Virginians fully expect their legislators to take urgent action this session and put their health and safety first by passing the Reproductive Health Protection Act. This bill will finally give patients and medical providers the ability to make healthcare decisions based on best medical practices and science—and ensure a woman has the ability to make personal decisions that are best for her, her family, her future, and her health without interference from politicians. 

“Eighty eight percent of registered Latino/a voters in Virginia agree that a woman should be able to make her own personal, private decisions about abortion care without political interference,” Sarah Flores Shannon, Field Coordinator of the Latina Institute for Reproductive Health in Virginia, said. “TRAP, along with other medically unnecessary regulations, are outdated attacks on safe and routine reproductive healthcare. We know that such restrictions disproportionately harm communities of color and low income patients. We look forward to putting healthcare decisions back in the hands of patients and their healthcare providers.” 

Background: 

The Reproductive Health Protection Act removes political interference between a patient and her doctor and gets rid of the medically unnecessary restrictions for a patient seeking access to safe and legal abortion including:

    • Requiring patients to undergo a forced, medically unnecessary ultrasound.
    • The 24-hour mandatory delay, which often stretches for far longer.
    • Mandated biased counseling.
    • The requirement that abortion care is performed solely by physicians and blocks qualified Advanced Practice Clinicians (APC) from doing so, despite their rigorous post-graduate training and extensive clinical experience.
    • The medically unnecessary targeted restrictions on abortion providers (TRAP) that regulate the number of parking spaces and the width of hallways for abortion clinics.