What do you get when you put together years of activism and advocacy with lawmakers who support our freedom of choice? Abortion coverage! That’s right, y’all, beginning July 1, plans available in our state health insurance exchange can FINALLY cover abortion. In case you didn’t know, abortion coverage in our state health insurance exchange was previously banned.
So while Virginia might be the most progressive southern state (thanks to abolishing the death penalty, comprehensive voting rights, and other progressive wins), the history of abortion access and restrictions in the Commonwealth is… not great. But we’re changing that!
Virginia Is For Abortion Access
In 2020, the General Assembly repealed a slew of abortion restrictions aka Targeted Restrictions on Abortion Providers (TRAP). With the Reproductive Health Protection Act (RHPA), Virginia became the first Southern state to pass proactive abortion access legislation. Passing RHPA means we did away with some of the burdensome requirements for abortion services, such as that pesky medically-unecessary ultrasound, the 24-hour mandatory waiting period, and mandated and biased counseling. Don’t even get me started on the parking lots. Yes, that was a thing.
With all of the restrictions in place prior to RHPA, you might think abortions aren’t safer than getting your wisdom teeth out. But you’d be wrong! Abortion is safe, and these restrictions are about one thing: old white men wanting to control people’s bodies. The only things that make abortions unsafe are restrictions like TRAP regulations and limited accessibility. That’s why having coverage on our health insurance exchange is so important. It sends the message that Virginia cares about reproductive justice and that we value autonomy.
Making Abortion Affordable in the Commonwealth
In 2019, close to 500,000 people gained access to affordable healthcare with Virginia’s Medicaid expansion. All of those people now have access to affordable abortion care. Cost is a huge barrier to abortion access. Remember, abortion is safe and normal. It should be accessible, and now in Virginia, it is!
For every attempt at limiting our access, there were people working and organizing to get us to where we are today. From bill patrons Sen. Jennifer McClellan and Del. Sally Hudson, organizations like Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice Virginia, *All Above All, Whole Women’s Health Alliance, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, and Planned Parenthood Virginia, and grassroots abortion funds like Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project and Blue Ridge Abortion Fund, people across the Commonwealth have made it clear that accessible abortions are not only a priority, but a necessity.
Just listen to the people highlighted in Shining the Light: Accessing Abortion in Virginia. These are stories from our communities. They are our neighbors, our friends, our families. They share the barriers they faced while seeking abortion services, as well as what they think about about access in Virginia. We’re screening the documentary on July 31, in Richmond, Virginia. We hope you’ll join us!
Protect Abortion Access in Virginia! Vote!
Abortion access is a thing worth celebrating, but the work is not done! Come November, we have an important job to do. Glenn Youngkin is an anti-abortion extremist. We need a governor who supports and expands our reproductive freedoms. By allowing abortion coverage on the exchange, we’ve come so far. We can go even further. Register to vote, and on November 2, tell Glenn Youngkin and his anti-abortion ideals to take a seat — but not in the governor’s mansion.