After U.S. Senate votes to confirm Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia looks ahead

ALEXANDRIA, VA Senate Republicans today jammed through Amy Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, in spite of her record of anti-reproductive-freedom extremism and as over 61 million Americans have already voted in the presidential election. With roughly a week left until Election Day, Republicans disregarded the will of the people, who believe that the next president should have filled the vacancy on the Court and that the Senate should prioritize much-need COVID-19 relief instead. Barrett’s presence on the bench has created an anti-reproductive freedom supermajority–she will threaten our fundamental rights for decades to come. Despite our worst fears coming to fruition, we are not powerless.

Fortunately, here in Virginia, we don’t have a “trigger law” or a pre-Roe abortion ban that would automatically criminalize abortion if Roe is overturned or gutted by the Supreme Court. Furthermore, the passage of the Reproductive Health Protection Act earlier this year, and became law on July 1st, removed some of the worst medically unnecessary barriers to abortion access in the Virginia Code, placing reproductive healthcare back in the hands of patients and not politicians.

However, Virginia does not have affirmative constitutional or statutory protections safeguarding the right to access abortion. If Roe falls and political tides change, there is no guarantee that abortion access in Virginia will be protected. Furthermore, even with a pro-choice legislature and the lessening of abortion access restrictions, not everyone can access the right to abortion care in Virginia: 80% of Virginia patients live in counties without an abortion provider. The current landscape here in the Commonwealth shows that we need to keep forging ahead.

“Despite the vast majority of Virginians and Americans supporting Roe and the right to abortion, a sham nomination process has confirmed anti-reproductive freedom Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the highest Court in the land. Yes, we are grieving and fearful for the future, but we are not powerless,” said NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia’s executive director, Tarina Keene. “Now is the time for Virginians to take control of our fate. We have the power to fight back by voting early for our next president and down-ballot races who will stand up for reproductive freedom. We must prepare for the 2021 election where we will decide our next statewide elected officials as well as all 100 seats in the House of Delegates. We have the ability to make abortion care and all reproductive healthcare more accessible for all in the Commonwealth by codifying bodily autonomy for each and every Virginian. Virginia also has the power to become a beacon for protecting individual liberty –  if our worst fears are realized and Roe falls – we could be a safe haven for abortion in the South. We can do this and we must.”  

This fight over the future of the Court has tapped into the energy, anger, and passion in the progressive movement. Republicans succeeded in ramming through another Trump justice, but Virginia voters—especially reproductive freedom voters and supporters—will not forget. NARAL Virginia members are already voting early or voting in-person because we know November 3rd is our greatest chance of protecting our most fundamental rights and freedoms. Everything is on the line with this election.

Should Roe fall and abortion access dwindle in the states surrounding us, Virginia must be a refuge for those who need safe, legal, and affordable care. This means protecting and expanding access to abortion care and the full array of reproductive healthcare to ensure the Commonwealth becomes the safe haven of the South. We and our 22,000 members are already hard at work, and we will keep fighting until our rights are secure and access to the full array of reproductive healthcare is accessible to every Virginian. 

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NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia is the policy and political leader of the reproductive freedom movement in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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