Statement by Tarina Keene, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia

We acknowledge that we most people have firm opinions about abortion. While we respect that others may have different views, we can agree that once a woman has made the decision to have an abortion, she should be safe, healthy, and have access to care that is free from shame or judgment. A recent Public Policy Polling survey from January 2020 found that the overwhelming majority of Virginians –79%–  trust a woman to make her own reproductive healthcare decisions and do not want politicians interfering in that deeply personal healthcare decision. Further, a large majority, 82% of Virginians, agree that these decisions should be made by a woman with the support of those she loves and trusts—which included 80% of independents, 68% of Republicans, and 62% of voters who supported President Trump.

Virginians are also acutely aware that the threats to their reproductive freedom are real and that Roe’s days are numbered. That is why this past November, Virginians elected the first ever pro-choice majority General Assembly, to protect their fundamental freedoms. Now, Virginians expect their legislators to pass laws that reflect their principles and values, which includes passing the Reproductive Health Protection Act, a commonsense bill intended to roll back politically motivated restrictions on abortion access that have no basis in patient health and safety and only serve to shut off access to safe, legal abortion care. The Reproductive Health Protection Act 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 providers.

To address the common myths the anti-choice movement may use to perpetuate fear and mistrust about the Reproductive Health Protection Act, we want to be clear that this bill would not ban ultrasounds for a patient having an abortion but would instead allow healthcare providers to deem when an ultrasound is medically necessary rather than forcing one upon every patient and then requiring her to wait an additional 24-hours before receiving care. The Reproductive Health Protection also does not address, or even impact, abortion later in pregnancy, but solely rolls back restrictions on abortion access early in pregnancy put in place by anti-abortion politicians and respects a patient’s ability to make their own personal reproductive healthcare decisions, free from political interference. The standard of care must remain with the medical community, just like every other healthcare procedure and not with legislators.

Virginia is currently one step closer to becoming a place that ensures that a woman – and she alone – has the ability to make personal decisions that are best for her, her family, her future, and her health without interference from politicians.

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