Last night, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an emergency request to block Texas’ barbaric new abortion ban (S.B. 8), which took effect yesterday, September 1, and has completely cut off access to abortion in nearly all cases by banning abortion after six weeks, before many people even know they are pregnant. This ban is particularly dangerous because it transforms private individuals into bounty hunters, incentivizing them with a $10,000 bounty to enforce the ban instead of state officials. Anti-abortion politicians designed the law this way in an effort to protect it from federal court review, and they’ve apparently succeeded.
Abortion access advocates from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, Progress Virginia, and NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia are urging Virginia voters to take action during the upcoming 2021 Virginia General Election in an effort to minimize the likelihood of a similar piece of legislation making its way to Virginia. The outcome of the election will ultimately decide the fate of reproductive healthcare in Virginia. After the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to block the bill last night, it’s clear that the fight for reproductive freedom is in the states.
“The Supreme Court’s decision to allow Texas’ 6-week abortion ban to take effect is devastating,” said Jamie Lockhart, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia. “We know those who face the most barriers to accessing care will be the most negatively impacted and it’s heartbreaking that up to 90% of Texans have lost the right to make a very personal decision. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia stand with our friends in Texas and will do all we can to ensure Virginians continue to have access to time-sensitive, essential abortion care, no matter what. This is the loudest alarm yet that abortion rights are in grave danger. While states across the country are passing abortion bans like Texas, we have made progress in repealing draconian anti-abortion laws here in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Our vote is our voice and we must continue increasing access to abortion care in Virginia by continuing to elect pro-reproductive health champions as Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and keeping the majority in the House of Delegates.
“We are officially living in a post-Roe world. We have been preparing for this day, but certainly did not expect the U.S. Supreme Court to take this cowardly way out and let Texas bring back cowboy politics and strip pregnant people of their bodily autonomy. We never thought Roe would end like this. But here in Virginia, we will keep fighting for pregnant people to be able to access abortion care free of shame and stigma. This decision comes at a pivotal moment when Virginians get to decide who will control the Commonwealth. Currently, Virginia has a pro-choice trifecta in Richmond and during the past two General Assembly sessions, legislators have used their power to repeal some of the most egregious restrictions to abortion access in the Commonwealth. We’ve come a long way, but we still have much work to do. We must codify bodily autonomy, decriminalize abortion, and make sure every person, no matter their age, race, income, immigration status, gender identity, or location, has access to abortion care including funding. We must ensure Virginia is a safe haven for all. Virginia voters overwhelmingly support reproductive freedom and they do not want politicians interfering in their personal medical decisions. This is when candidates and elected officials must decide where they stand on reproductive freedom, and we will be there to hold them accountable. There is no place to hide any longer,” stated NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia Executive Director Tarina Keene.
“It is devastating that the Supreme Court failed to follow its own precedent and block this extreme abortion ban. This forced birth law will harm Black, Brown, and low-income people most of all, and we know that other states are already eager to follow suit,” Ashleigh Crocker, Communications Director at Progress Virginia, said.
“Everyone should be able to choose whether, how, and when to become a parent, and access to abortion is a critical part of making that a reality for everyone. In Virginia, we must be a safe haven against these attacks and expand access to abortion by passing the Reproductive Health Equity Act, which would ensure that everyone, regardless of immigration status, gender identity, or type of insurance, has access to the full spectrum of reproductive health services, including abortion.”
Virginia has made many strides in increasing access to abortion and reproductive healthcare. The Reproductive Health Protection Act (RHPA), which passed in 2019, removed several medically unnecessary barriers to abortion access, including mandatory 24 hour waiting periods and forced ultrasounds. During the 2021 legislative session, members of the General Assembly passed a bill that removes the ban on abortion coverage on the state health exchange. Despite the recent passage of these proactive abortion access laws, Virginia is not entirely safe from bans like SB8. Should anti-abortion candidates gain control of the legislature this election, Virginia would be positioned to pass dangerous anti-abortion legislation. Maintaining the pro-choice trifecta in the House of Delegates, Senate, and Governor’s office is critical to protecting and expanding the abortion rights of Virginians.
Everyone deserves safe, legal, and accessible abortion care. Virginia must remain a safe haven for reproductive healthcare. The only way Virginians can protect themselves from heinous pieces of anti-abortion legislation is to ensure that pro-reproductive rights legislators make up their General Assembly.