We must continue to stand up for women’s health

By NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia

As we wrote yesterday, women’s health centers in Virginia will soon be subject to new, politically-motivated regulations.

An article in yesterday’s Chesterfield Observer further discussed the upcoming new regulations:

Senate Bill 924 passed the General Assembly earlier this year, requiring all health facilities that perform five or more first trimester abortions per month to meet the same standards as a hospital.

The bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Bob McDonnell as an emergency regulation, will go into effect Dec. 31. Seen by some as a health issue and others as a way to shut down abortion clinics that can’t afford to meet the requirements, the Virginia Department of Health currently is working on preliminary regulations to give to the State Board of Health on Sept. 15.

Anti-choice officials in Virginia have been undermining women’s health in our state for years. Now they’ve chosen to single out doctors who provide abortion for additional regulation, despite the fact first-trimester abortion remains one of the safest in-office medical procedures and despite the strong safety records of women’s health centers in Virginia.

NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia’s executive director Tarina Keene cut to the heart of the issue:

“We are appalled at these repeated attacks on women’s health,” stated Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, via email. “Gov. McDonnell and his legislative cohorts have pursued a singleminded agenda to undercut women’s health in our state. There are no legitimate medical purposes for singling out abortion for further regulation. … [The] new regulations have nothing to do with women’s safety and everything to do with a political attempt to restrict access to reproductive healthcare.”

Elected officials and anti-choice groups who have spent years railing against abortion and attempting to impose additional restrictions on reproductive rights in Virginia now claim they are just trying to make abortion – an already-safe procedure – safer!

But we aren’t fooled. We know this is just another tactic in the overall anti-choice strategy of chipping away at reproductive rights and making it as difficult as possible for women to practically access abortion care.

If there was any doubt about their motives, the same article reminds us of the motivations of the groups that supported SB 924 and are now pushing for medically-unnecessary regulations:

“Olivia Gans, a spokesperson for the Virginia Society for Human Life, says the organization hopes the General Assembly will pursue further legislation to prohibit abortions.

We are pleased that the legislature realizes the seriousness of this issue,” Gans said. “As a mother who had an abortion, I’m deeply concerned … with the number of women who have abortions.”

Rather than working to decrease rates of unintended pregnancy – perhaps by pursuing policies that would provide access to affordable birth control, promote comprehensive, medically-accurate sex education or better support women who choose to parent – anti-choice lawmakers are instead seeking to decrease the number of legal abortions by simply keeping women from accessing quality reproductive healthcare.

We have to stand up and let the Board of Health and the governor know we will not stand for new regulations that are focused on a political agenda rather than the health and wellbeing of Virginia women.

Join us as we stand up for women’s health in Virginia:

As Tarina points out, “If political motives and ideological passions interfere in the regulatory process, then the safety of women’s health may be jeopardized.”