Virginia Women’s Equality Coalition Condemns Conservative Politicians Trying To Control Women’s Bodies for Defeating Whole Woman’s Health Act

Richmond, Virginia—On Thursday morning, anti-woman members of the Senate Committee on Education and Health defeated Senator McClellan’s SB910, the Whole Woman’s Health Act. The Virginia Women’s Equality Coalition is extremely disappointed that the committee failed to pass such a commonsense bill that affirms women’s right to receive healthcare and brings Virginia code into accordance with the United States Constitution.

Our families and communities benefit when women have access to the health care they need, including abortion.  Comprehensive reproductive health care, including safe, legal abortion, is a vital component of a woman’s overall health and must be protected, but that becomes impossible when politicians, not doctors, put sham restrictions on a woman’s ability to access abortion and the healthcare options she needs.  

“We are disappointed that today members of the Senate failed to stand up for a person’s constitutional right to access a safe, legal abortion in Virginia,” Jennifer Allen, CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia and member of the Women’s Equality Coalition, said. “Politicians have no business obstructing personal medical decisions. We will not rest until every unconstitutional abortion restriction is prohibited in Virginia law.”

“We are proud to support and stand alongside powerful leaders within Virginia to introduce the Whole Woman’s Health Act, which was developed after the historic Whole Woman’s Health Supreme Court victory last year which reaffirmed that courts will not tolerate targeted attacks on abortion that impose an undue burden,” Amy Hagstrom Miller, Founder and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health and lead plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court case, said.  “Access to abortion is a constitutionally protected right and getting in between a woman and her doctor isn’t just wrong, it’s dangerous. The pattern of incessant and medically unnecessary attacks on women’s healthcare has not stopped and this is why the Whole Woman’s Health Act is so vital to all women and families. All people should have the dignity to make their own healthcare decisions.”

“Two thirds (67%) of Virginia Latino/a voters say the increased restrictions on abortion that have occurred since 2010 are a step in the wrong direction and this is why today’s vote is extremely disappointing for our organization and activists,” Margie Del Castillo, Director of Field and Advocacy with the NLIRH Virginia Latina Advocacy Network, said. “Unconstitutional regulations that still remain on the books harm Latina health in particular. A Latina working to raise the necessary funds for these services must often choose between paying for food, rent, or utilities, and the healthcare she needs. Harmful, sham restrictions compound the cost for women due to lost wages and added childcare and transportation expenses. For these reasons and more, we’ll continue to fight for health, dignity and justice and it won’t be the last time that the General Assembly sees this legislation from us and our communities.”

“A woman is fully capable of making the best decision for herself, her family, her future, and her health without interference from politicians in Richmond. And it is politicians, not doctors who are pushing and protecting medically-unnecessary sham restrictions designed to limit a woman’s access to abortion and trample on her constitutional rights,” Tarina Keene, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, said. “These politicians are clearly ignoring the will of the people, who made their voices heard when they voted overwhelmingly for candidates who embraced reproductive freedom last November, Furthermore, they are willing to keep unconstitutional provisions on the books to enforce their own ideology.

On June 27, 2016, the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, reaffirming that access to abortion is a fundamental constitutional right that abortion restrictions are unconstitutional unless the benefits they confer are sufficient to justify the burdens they impose. The Whole Woman’s Health Act enshrines the fundamental right to access abortion into state law, repeals state restrictions that impede access to abortion, and makes it illegal to enforce a new regulation on abortion that has no legitimate medical benefit. The Women’s Equality Coalition, a statewide coalition made up of 14 member organizations dedicated to ensuring that all Virginia women are able to fully participate in social, economic, and political life.