On April 10, 2020, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed the Reproductive Health Protection Act into law. The bill became law on July 1, 2020.
The Reproductive Health Protection Act is the first proactive abortion access legislation to be enacted in any Southern state in the United States. It is also the first step towards reversing decades of anti-abortion legislation passed right here in the Commonwealth.
In 2011, when the Virginia General Assembly was controlled by an anti-abortion state legislature, the first of the modern restrictions on abortion in Virginia was passed into law. Due to the new political landscape of Virginia–and election after election of Virginians coming out to support and vote in pro-choice candidates–the tide has turned. Most notably was when the anti-choice controlled General Assembly was flipped during the 2019 state elections, allowing both the House of Delegates and Virginia State Senate to gain historic pro-choice majorities.
The Reproductive Health Protection Act eliminates burdensome restrictions on abortion access like the mandatory 24-hour waiting period, which mandates a two-visit requirement before a patient can access an abortion. It also gets rid of the targeted restrictions on abortion providers (TRAP) that were designed to close down clinics by regulating the number of water fountains and the number of parking spaces abortion clinics are required to have. These unconstitutional restrictions have no basis in patient health and safety and instead were intended to shut down clinics and limit access to abortion care. Starting July 1, Virginians became one step closer to being able to access the abortion care they need when they need it, without politically-motivated restrictions.
What the Act Does:
The Reproductive Health Protection Act removes political interference between a patient and their doctor and gets rid of the medically unnecessary restrictions for a patient seeking access to safe and legal abortion, including:
- Requiring patients to undergo a forced, medically unnecessary ultrasound. (Amends and partly repeals).
- The 24-hour mandatory delay, which often stretches for far longer. (Amends and partly repeals).
- Mandated, biased counseling. (Amends and partly repeals).
- The requirement that abortion care is performed solely by physicians and blocks qualified nurse practitioners from doing so, despite their rigorous post-graduate training and extensive clinical experience. (Amends and partly repeals).
- The medically unnecessary targeted restrictions on abortion providers (TRAP) that regulate the number of parking spaces and the width of hallways for abortion clinics. (Amends and partly repeals).
Starting on July 1, patients in Virginia will be able to schedule appointments for a procedure and have it on the same day and have that procedure without a medically unnecessary prior ultrasound. Nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives will be able to perform abortion care, and finally, abortion providers will be regulated in the same manner as other similar medical providers.
To read the text of the Act, click HERE.
To read NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia’s Statement on the passage of the Act, click HERE.
To read the Reproductive Health Protection Act Fact Sheet, click HERE.