With some legislators absent, all-male majority defeat top priorities of the VA Women’s Equality Coalition

Richmond, VA– This afternoon, an all-male majority on a House Commerce and Labor subcommittee voted to defeat mainstream legislation to increase access to contraception and roll back anti-women’s health policies enacted in recent years.

H.B. 592, sponsored by Delegate Hope (D-Arlington), would have enabled Virginia women to receive a year-long supply of hormonal birth control. H.B. 1225, sponsored by Delegate Boysko (D-Herndon), would have overturned the current ban on insurance coverage for abortion within the Virginia state health exchange. Both bills were priorities for the Virginia Women’s Equality Coalition, a diverse group of organizations dedicated to ensuring that Virginia women and girls have equal opportunity to participate fully in civic, economic, and political life.

Anna Malinowski, a young woman from Fredericksburg, Virginia, urged legislators to expand access to birth control by supporting HB 592:

“I will be completely honest with you here – to me, this bill seems like an absolute no-brainer. While lawmakers in this room may disagree on whether or not a Virginia women who has decided to have an abortion should safely and legally access it, I hope that we can all agree on the importance of increasing access to birth control and reducing unintended pregnancy. For women who face barriers in accessing affordable, comprehensive health care, a 12 month supply of birth control can be absolutely crucial in ensuring that they can prevent unintended pregnancy, plan their futures and control their reproductive lives.”

After the vote, Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, condemned anti-women’s health legislators for defeating the measure:

“I truly don’t understand how any legislator – Democratic or Republican, pro-woman’s health or anti-choice – could claim to be against this common-sense, non-controversial measure. When women can prevent unintended pregnancy and plan their families, not only is it beneficial for them, it is beneficial their families, their communities, and Virginia as a whole. Today’s defeat is yet another example of out-of-touch legislators who are unwilling to even consider the voices, needs, and rights of the Commonwealth’s women.”

Marieke van Rijn, a student at the University of Richmond, asked legislators on committee to support House Bill 1225 and repeal Virginia’s abortion insurance coverage ban:

“As a core value, all Virginians should have access to quality, affordable health care regardless of their income, zip code, or type of insurance. This includes access to safe, legal abortion. While no woman ever plans to have an abortion, having insurance coverage for it is important to make sure that every woman can access the safe, high-quality care she may need… I don’t want to live in a place where a woman who makes the decision to access abortion has to shut off her own heat, forego paying for groceries, or take another job just to pay for it. This is wrong.”

Margie Del Castillo, Senior Field Coordinator for the NLIRH VA Latina Advocacy Network, responded to the bill’s failure:

“We are strongly disappointed by the failure of HB1225 today, which would have reversed Virginia’s harmful coverage ban on abortion care in the state healthcare exchange. This type of ban forces many Latinas to struggle to raise funds for the care they need, as the cost of ending a pregnancy forces many to choose between paying for rent or groceries, or paying for the care they need. We cannot allow this to continue. We must do better for all women in Virginia.”

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 Contact: Alena Yarmosky, alena@naralva.org, (240-595-2972)
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