Video footage of this event can be found here.
|Richmond, Virginia—Reproductive health, rights, and justice advocates host a press conference to urge legislators to pass the Reproductive Health Protection Act ( HB980 and SB733) and the Reproductive Health Equity Act (HB1445 and SB917). Everyone should have the ability to make decisions for themselves about whether, how, and when to start a family. But since 2008, anti-choice politicians have introduced or passed more than 170 restrictions that limit access to abortion and reproductive health services. Now that we have a pro-choice majority General Assembly in Virginia, the time is now to get rid of the medically unnecessary, burdensome restrictions so that everyone can raise their families with dignity and thrive in our communities.|
“I am sharing my story because it is imperative that you all pass the Reproductive Health Protection Act, as I believe and know from personal experience that Virginians should have the ability to decide if, how, and when to start a family,” Rachel Scruggs said. “We don’t need political restrictions put in place to burden us that have nothing to do with our health and safety. The decision should be left up to us, the patients.
”As a young parent, access to health care sometimes came with stigma and societal pressures that created barriers to my overall wellness and especially my mental health. For a young student and mother with a part-time salary, contraceptive measures were expensive at times. If you’ve been a working student alone, you understand what $20 or $30 can mean to your survival,” Lorena Paredes, a Falls Church resident, said. “Once I graduated and was working full-time, co-pays and premiums for the ‘higher-tiered employer-based commercial plans’ were costly and sometimes deterred me from seeking health care. What you can afford or where you work does change the health care you have access to! With my second child, I was in a place where I could afford better delivery options and with high-rates of C-sections across the country, having quality prenatal and delivery care was vital for me.
“A few months ago I had to have a 27cm tumor and my left ovary removed. When I found out the full cost of my surgery without insurance, the tumor became the least of my worries. The surgery cost $110,000 and even with insurance my family still had to pay $25,000. Fortunately, I had insurance during that difficult time but I know that it is not the same for my immigrant and undocumented friends and other community members. Access to affordable reproductive healthcare services is what makes me so excited to support the Reproductive Health Equity Act. I think it is very important that everyone, regardless of income level, race, gender identity, immigration status, or zip code, deserves access to the full range of reproductive health services, including abortion. I believe that healthcare is a human right and not a privilege. I know that immigrants and low-income community members already face significant barriers to access healthcare and cost should not be one of them.”
“The skills that I have refined through over twenty years of clinical experience have allowed me to provide high-quality care to hundreds of patients. I’m able to do that work because I am trained, experienced and qualified by the board of medicine to do so. Every day physicians and patients trust me to place IUD’s, prepare ultrasounds and manage family medicine as a critical piece of the medical infrastructure,” Vanessa Fowlkes, a board-certified women’s health and family medicine nurse practitioner from Virginia League for Planned Parenthood said. “Abortion care is health care. As such, I should be able to provide the full range of reproductive health services to each patient, including abortion. Qualified advanced practice clinicians are willing and waiting to serve the needs of all Virginians.”
“I know firsthand what it’s like to need access to abortion care but instead feel shamed and stigmatized due to restrictions put in place to intentionally prevent that care,” Rebecca Gotwalt, a Falls Church resident said. “Patients like me need kind and compassionate healthcare, not judgment and politically-motivated obstacles that push abortion care out of reach like the 24-hour mandatory delay and forced ultrasound. We know that a forced ultrasound is demeaning — and has no medical justification and that the 24-hour mandatory delay disproportionately harms those patients with the fewest resources; who will most likely have to plan to take time off from work, face lost wages, find affordable childcare, and pay for transportation and potential hotel costs.”
Background: Virginians overwhelming support the right to access safe, legal abortion. According to a NARAL poll, nearly 7 in 10 Virginians believe that abortion care should remain safe, legal and accessible. 85 percent of Virginians believe abortion should remain legal. Abortion is a safe medical procedure. Research from the non-partisan and objective National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) concludes that abortion is a safe and effective medical procedure. However, the quality and accessibility of care are impacted by medically unnecessary abortion regulations at the state level. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that abortion has over a 99 percent safety record. Peer-reviewed medical literature – including a recent four-year study of more than 11,000 abortion patients published in the American Journal of Public Health – uniformly confirms that Advanced Practice Clinicians (APC) can safely and effectively provide this care early in pregnancy.