Last year, we made amazing progress for reproductive freedom in Virginia. Even though we lifted some of the most harmful barriers to abortion care access in Virginia with the passage of the Reproductive Health Protection Act, the quest for reproductive healthcare access for all is still far from a reality for many Virginians. Here’s how NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia is working with legislators during the 2021 General Assembly session to make access for all a true reality:

12-Month Access to Oral Contraceptives

One of the most common reasons for birth control failure is a break in continuous use. In one study, 43% of women who received only three months of contraceptive supplies had a gap of at least one week between refills over the course of the year.

That is why we are introducing a bill that would give Medicaid beneficiaries access to a 12-month supply of oral contraceptives. Being able to avoid an unplanned pregnancy not only supports a person’s reproductive autonomy in deciding if, when, how, and with whom to start or expand a family but also supports financial stability.

In 2017, we passed this bill for private insurance plans, and it was the first proactive reproductive rights bill to pass in two decades in the Commonwealth. Now it is time to make sure those using public insurance have the same benefits.

Repeal the Ban on Abortion Coverage Through the State Exchange

Last year the passing of the Reproductive Health Protection Act removed harmful and nonsensical restrictions to abortion access, such as mandatory waiting periods and ultrasounds. To create even more access this year, we are focusing on removing the ban against insurance plans that provide abortion coverage on the state insurance exchange. This bill would not require that insurance plans cover abortion on the exchange but would remove the ban for offering the coverage option.

Removing this prohibition is especially important to pass right now due to the rapidly growing unemployment rate in the U.S. due to the pandemic and is disproportionately affecting marginalized communities. Insurance purchased through the state exchange is the only option for many who are unemployed or low-income. This current coverage ban leaves hundreds of thousands of Virginia’s with no affordable or accessible abortion care options.

Local and Regional Jail Workgroup on Reproductive Healthcare for Pregnant Incarcerated Persons

Recently, a spotlight has been placed on the disparities within our criminal justice system. That’s why we are advocating for the treatment of pregnant incarcerates persons and their children by creating a workgroup focused on setting standards of their pre-and postpartum treatment.

The bill will require the Board of Regional and Local Jails to work with stakeholders, including medical professionals and prison reform advocates, to develop “best practices” to deliver maternal health care in a jail setting.

This means an incarcerated pregnant person must receive appropriate prenatal and postnatal/postpartum care, delivered in a respectful and patient-centered manner to ensure the best outcomes for both the parent and child.

How to Get Involved

While our initiatives are not groundbreaking, they are crucial in ensuring that reproductive healthcare is accessible to each person. We can not let marginalized communities – people of color, immigrants, and rural people – go unprotected any longer when it comes to protecting and advancing their reproductive freedoms.

Join us in our fight by signing up for our Legislative Rapid Response Team. You will receive updates on our bills as they move through the General Assembly, the latest news on reproductive health and rights, and ways you can participate in the movement for reproductive freedom and justice.

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