Bill Numbers: HB980 and SB733Patrons: Delegate Charniele Herring and Senator Jennifer McClellan

What: Current restrictions that create unnecessary burdens in accessing safe, legal abortion care are targeted at abortion providers, and prevent a woman from being able to access the healthcare she needs, while making decisions that are best for her family, future and health. These restrictions have already closed clinics and prevent qualified medical professionals who would otherwise provide comprehensive reproductive health care from doing so.  Abortion care should be safe, legal, and accessible and the removal of these restrictions will expand access to quality, medically accurate care, free from political interference. Abortion is healthcare and should be regulated like any other medical procedure.

The Reproductive Health Protection Act is a commonsense bill intended to roll back politically-motivated restrictions on access to abortion that have no basis in patient health and safety and only serve to eliminate access to safe, legal abortion care and shutdown health centers in Virginia. It will:

  • Establish Virginia at the forefront of reproductive health and rights and act as the access point for abortion in the Southern United States.
  • Give patients and medical professionals the ability to work with patients to make healthcare decisions based on best medical practices and science, not disinformation and rhetoric that has nothing to do with patient health and safety.
  • Remove medically unnecessary and onerous restrictions that harm the health and safety patients and can block them from getting critical care.

What the bill does: the RHPA overturns medically unnecessary restrictions for a patient seeking access to safe and legal abortion, including:

  • Mandating a patient undergo a forced, unnecessary ultrasound whether their medical professional advises them to or not;
  • The 24-hour mandatory delay, which often stretches for far longer;
  • State-based biased counseling;
  • The requirement that abortion care early in pregnancy be solely performed by physicians and which blocks qualified nurse practitioners from doing so, despite their rigorous post-graduate training and extensive clinical experience.
  • The Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws that unfairly single out abortion providers with the sole goal of shutting off access to abortion care.

Why: For over two decades, anti-choice legislators in Virginia have held control of the state House and Senate and passed a series of laws – including mandatory 24-hour waiting periods, mandatory medically unnecessary ultrasounds, and mandatory biased counseling – aimed to limit and hinder a woman’s ability to access safe and legal abortion care.

Since 2011, anti-abortion politicians in Virginia have introduced over 170 medically unnecessary abortion bills and regulations that have politically interfered between a woman and her doctor. Their actions have jeopardized Virginians’ health and created an increasingly uncertain future for abortion access in the country and the state.

These actions have led to Virginia becoming an increasingly hostile state for abortion access in the country, with 92 percent of Virginia counties having no abortion clinic at all. These undue burdens to care are hardest on people who already face systemic barriers to accessing healthcare, including people of color, immigrant populations, people living in rural areas, young people, and people with low incomes.

Facts: We should not allow lawmakers to ignore the science. These targeted regulations are purely political, medically unnecessary attacks intended to limit access to abortion, not improve women’s health.

  • Nearly 7 in 10 Virginians believe that abortion care should remain safe, legal and accessible.
  • Research from the non-partisan and objective National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) concludes that abortion is a safe and effective medical procedure. However, the quality and accessibility of care is impacted by medically unnecessary abortion regulations at the state level.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, show that abortion has over a 99 percent safety record. Peer-reviewed medical literature – including a recent four-year study of more than 11,000 abortion patients published in the American Journal of Public Health – uniformly confirms that Advanced Practice Clinicians (APC) can safely and effectively provide this care early in pregnancy.
  • Medical authorities ranging from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, to the American Public Health Association, to the World Health Organization, have all concluded that laws prohibiting APCs from providing abortion services early in pregnancy are medically unfounded. The research finds that abortions can be performed safely by a trained physician or an advanced practice clinician with the appropriate training and experience.
  • Like most of the other restrictions on abortion care, the ultrasound requirement creates a major obstacle to those already facing significant barriers to healthcare access.
  • Currently, patients are forced to make multiple trips to the clinic due to the medically unnecessary 24-hour waiting period before returning to the clinic for their abortion. Often these delays are even longer because of scheduling conflicts, the need for patients to arrange childcare, and time off from work as well as travel.
  • The additional costs of a second visit, which are not covered by health insurance or government-provided health-insurance plan (that pesky Hyde amendment), increases the cost of the abortion for those traveling less than 100 miles to a clinic.
  • For hourly employees, part-time, and low-wage workers, an extra day off work can make the difference between making rent or not, and, in some instances, even keeping a job or not.
  • Childcare costs, transportation costs, and potential costs for overnight lodging, if a patient is able to get back-to-back appointments, add up quickly, falling heavily on people of color, those living in rural areas, the low-income, the undocumented and the otherwise marginalized.
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