It’s Time to Take Reproductive Healthcare Decisions Out of the Hands of Politicians and Restore the Dignity of the Patient and Medical Professional Relationship.

Richmond, Virginia—Yesterday was Crossover in Virginia, when bills that have passed in the House and Senate transfer to the other respective chamber for further consideration, before they can be sent to the Governor to potentially be signed into law. This includes the Reproductive Health Protection Act, which passed the Senate (SB 733) and the House (HB 980) in January.

Since members of the Virginia Pro-Choice Coalition expect anti-abortion politicians and activists in Virginia to continue to use inflammatory rhetoric and disinformation in a desperate attempt to mislead the public, undermine the will of the voters, and score political points; below are facts to address the common myths the anti-choice movement may use to perpetuate fear and mistrust about the Reproductive Health Protection Act (RHPA). RHPA is a commonsense bill intended to roll back politically motivated restrictions on abortion access that have no basis in patient health and safety.

“Virginians have waited long enough for their rights to be respected and protected. For over two decades, anti-abortion legislators controlled the Virginia House of Delegates and state Senate and passed several anti-reproductive healthcare laws and regulations designed to shame patients and restrict their access to abortion and shut down healthcare clinics,” said Tarina Keene, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. “Today is a new day in Virginia. The overwhelming majority of Virginians -79%- trust a woman to make her own personal reproductive healthcare decisions, free from political interference and elected a new pro-choice majority General Assembly in 2019 to reflect Virginian’s principles and values. Now, Virginians expect their legislators to pass the Reproductive Health Protection Act, which will simply take reproductive health decisions out of the hands of politicians and put them back where they belong: in the hands of patients and their healthcare provider.”

“When we voted in November, we voted for legislators who ran on protecting and expanding access to abortion. Everyone should be able to choose whether, when, and how to start a family, and the Reproductive Health Protection Act makes that a reality for more people in our community,” Anna Scholl, Executive Director of Progress Virginia, said. “We are thrilled that legislators are keeping their campaign promises by voting for HB980 and SB733, and we look forward to seeing them signed into law.”

“We are excited for the progress of HB980 and SB733, the Reproductive Health Protection Act, during this legislative session. We know that restrictions on abortion care disproportionately hurt our Latina/x community & families by adding yet more barriers to already limited access to healthcare,” Margie Del Castillo with the Latina Institute for Reproductive Health-Virginia, said. “Everyone should have access to the full range of reproductive healthcare, including abortion, so we look forward to continuing the fight to tear down these harmful restrictions and expand access to the care all Virginians need.”

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Background: The Reproductive Health Protection Act, SB733 (Senator McClellan) and HB980 (Delegate Herring), removes unnecessary restrictions on abortion care that have no basis in medical best practices or patient health and safety.

What the bill does: The Act simply takes reproductive health decisions out of the hands of politicians and puts them back where they belong: in the hands of patients and their medical professionals. The RHPA overturns the medically unnecessary restrictions for a patient seeking access to safe and legal abortion, including:

● Mandating a patient undergo a forced, medically 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 Advanced Practice Clinicians (APC) 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.

Factual information about the Reproductive Health Protection Act:

● The Reproductive Health Protection Act will roll back the medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion access that have no basis in patient health and safety, put in place by anti-abortion politicians to limit access to safe and legal abortion care and shut down health centers.

● The Reproductive Health Protection Act simply takes reproductive health decisions out of the hands of politicians and puts them back where they belong: in the hands of patients and their medical professionals.

● A January 2020 Public Policy Polling survey found that 79% of Virginians trust a woman to make her own healthcare decisions about safe, legal abortion care, without political interference.

● The Reproductive Health Protection does not address, or even impact abortion later in pregnancy, but rather rolls back restrictions on abortion access and respects a patient’s ability to make their own personal reproductive healthcare decisions, free from political interference.

● The Reproductive Health Protection Act would not ban ultrasounds for a patient having an abortion but would instead allow medical professionals to deem when an ultrasound is medically necessary rather than forcing one upon every patient.

● The Reproductive Health Protection Act does not address or impact parental consent.

● A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM), an evidence-based, nonpartisan, scientific research group, concludes that abortion is safe and that there is no direct evidence that ultrasounds improve the safety or effectiveness of the procedure.

● Abortion providers are already and will remain subject to the same laws, regulations, and professional standards as other similarly situated medical facilities performing similar and riskier procedures.

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