Richmond, Virginia—Today, Governor Ralph Northam signed the Reproductive Health Protection Act into law. At a time when the country is facing an unprecedented public health crisis, and people continue to need access to essential reproductive healthcare, some anti-choice politicians in other states are attempting to delay or ban access to abortion by shutting down clinics. In this very same moment, Virginia is signing a historic, proactive reproductive rights bill into law that will ensure that Virginia becomes a safe haven for abortion access in the South. The Reproductive Health Protection Act eliminates burdensome restrictions on abortion access like the mandatory 24-hour waiting period and two-visit requirement before a patient can access an abortion. It also gets rid of the targeted restrictions on abortion providers (TRAP) that regulated the number of water fountains and the number of parking spaces abortion clinics were required to have. These unconstitutional restrictions were designed to shut down clinics and limit access to abortion. Starting July 1, Virginians will be one step closer to being able to access the abortion care they need, when they need it, without politically-motivated restrictions.
“Abortion care is essential health care. We’re thrilled that in a time when other states are further restricting access to vital medical services like abortion due to Coronavirus, Virginia is leading the way to become a safe haven for abortion access in the South,” Anna Scholl, Executive Director of Progress Virginia, said. “Everyone in our community should be able to decide whether, how, and when to start a family, and having access to abortion is a critical part of making that a reality for everyone.”
“As women of color who have been battling to put an end to restrictions on abortion care and mobilizing our Latina/x communities in the fight for reproductive justice for years, we are proud to welcome a new era for Virginia as the Reproductive Health Protection Act is signed into law today,“ said Margie Del Castillo with the Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice Virginia. “We know that abortion restrictions disproportionately hurt our Latina/x communities, especially during this public health crisis, and they block access to essential, time-sensitive healthcare. While other states are playing politics with people’s lives amid this pandemic, we are overjoyed to see Virginians take back their reproductive freedoms after so many years of baseless hurdles.”
“Abortion is an essential component of comprehensive healthcare and the Reproductive Health Protection Act (RHPA) is the first step toward securing a future that safeguards access to abortion care and upholds basic rights and freedoms here in Virginia,” said Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. “The reasons a person seeks abortion care do not go away during a pandemic, but instead reveal just how essential abortion care is in times of crisis. The medically unnecessary restrictions that the RHPA will soon overturn, such as the forced multiple visit, 24-hour mandatory delay—have only further exposed how arbitrary and dangerous anti-abortion restrictions are for patients and their families. Today and tomorrow, Virginians need access to timely, compassionate, reproductive healthcare services and Virginia will soon be a place that will protect and expand this fundamental right for all pregnant people.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has placed stress on every aspect of the health care system, including providers of reproductive health care, and has highlighted how the medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion currently in place are having a negative impact on patients and providers,” said Jamie Lockhart, Executive Director Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia. “Requiring an additional, medically unnecessary visit prior to a patient having an abortion is unnecessary in normal times and callous and dangerous in a pandemic. When a Virginian makes the decision to have an abortion, they need access to high-quality, compassionate health care without politically motivated obstacles in their way. Virginians overwhelmingly support access to abortion care and the signing of the Reproductive Health Protection Act demonstrates the commitment our commonwealth is willing to make for reproductive health care in 2020.”
“Today marks a new era in the Commonwealth, one where Virginians no longer must navigate medically unnecessary barriers in order to obtain safe and legal abortion care. People deserve access to abortion without delay in any circumstance. This paves the way for a new era of compassionate abortion care for our patients that we have the privilege to serve. We thank everyone who made the passage of the Reproductive Health Protection Act.” President and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health of Charlottesville and Whole Woman’s Health and Family Center in Alexandria.
In the age of Coronavirus, abortion care is both essential and time-sensitive. The Reproductive Protection Act ensures that people can access the care they need without unnecessary delays.
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 nurse practitioners 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.