Richmond, Virginia—Abortion access advocates gathered for a People’s Hearing this evening where they shared stories about the importance of passing the Reproductive Health Equity Act and got an update on what is happening with the bill.
“I’m sponsoring the Reproductive Health Equity Act because I believe everyone, regardless of their income, the color of their skin, their immigration status, or their gender identity, should be able to get the reproductive health care they need when they need it,” Delegate Marcia Price said. “In order to thrive in our communities, we all need access to basic health care, including abortion, and if we pass the Reproductive Health Equity Act we would be one step closer to making that a reality for everyone.”
“In 2019, I was diagnosed with a 27 centimeter tumor in my ovary. The surgery to remove it would cost $110,000. Thankfully, my insurance was able to cover most of the cost,” Kat Lopez, a woman from Alexandria, said. “A few months after my surgery, I lost my health insurance. I immediately thought about what it would have been like to need the surgery without that insurance. Reproductive health care is a nonpartisan matter. It is a human right. A lot of people can’t afford reproductive health care services out of pocket, and the Reproductive Health Equity Act ensures that everyone can afford the health care they need.”
“I didn’t have health insurance due to my family’s immigration status. When I turned 18, I wanted to get tested for STIs to take control of my health. When I got to Planned Parenthood, they told me the total was going to be more than $200 just for testing, and I almost left right then,” Maria*, a student at George Mason University, said. “I turned over my credit card and felt angry. This was going to be a big financial blow for me. It seemed like taking care of my health was going to be too expensive. I shouldn’t be forced to choose between college savings and my healthcare, and neither should anyone else. If we had the Reproductive Health Equity Act, reproductive health care would be more accessible for people like me.”
“I got pregnant even though I was on birth control. I knew that abortion was the best choice for me and my family, but getting an abortion was more complicated,” Lorena, a woman from Falls Church, said. “No one took my health insurance, so I had to call providers and compare costs. It was going to cost $500 for my abortion. What would I have done if I didn’t have the money or a car to drive to the clinic in Maryland? With unequal access to birth control and disparities in maternal mortality, we must ensure access to equitable, all encompassing health care regardless of race, income level, gender identity, or immigration status is available to everyone.”
During the 2021 legislative session, The Reproductive Health Equity Act (HB1922, sponsored by Delegate Marcia Price) was referred to the Health Insurance Reform Commission, where it will be studied. This is an important step towards passing the bill and ensuring that everyone can access the reproductive health care services they need, including family planning, abortion, prenatal and postpartum care, for all Virginians, whatever their income, immigration status, gender identity, or insurance plan. The bill:
- Requires Medicaid to cover a range of reproductive healthcare, including family planning, abortion, preventative care, prenatal care, and postpartum care for all Virginians so that no one is denied access to reproductive healthcare because of how much money they earn or where they’re from.
- Requires private insurance plans to follow the standard set by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and provide coverage for all reproductive health services without additional co-pays, deductibles or coinsurance.
- Prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity so that everyone, including transgender and non-binary people can access the reproductive healthcare they need without prejudice.
*Name changed to protect her identity.