General Assembly Update: January 25

Happy Tuesday everyone! Welcome to this week’s 2011 General Assembly update!

The Assembly is moving quickly during this 45-day session, so let’s get you caught up to speed on where the reproductive choice bills are.

First, the bad.

HB 1428- Singling out abortion providers

As we noted on Friday, The House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee voted to approve HB 1428, sending it to the full House for a vote. HB 1428, is a bill sponsored by Delegate Richard Bell (R-20) that singles out first-trimester abortion providers in Virginia for new restrictions! If passed, the bill will force these providers to comply with hospital-level regulations; regulations that are not imposed on doctors performing similar office-based procedures such as oral surgery, plastic surgery, or colonoscopy.

This “TRAP” bill (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) could make it more difficult for abortion providers to provide vital medical care to Virginian women. We continue to support the highest standards of care for abortion in the Commonwealth. First-trimester abortion remain safe and legal in our state, and we will continue fighting on the ground to make sure the General Assembly does not single out valued members of the medical field for unwarranted and unnecessary restrictions. The bill passed the House Committee in a 15-6 vote, and is now awaiting second reading on the House floor. Please contact your delegate today and ask her or him to vote against this bill!

HB 2433- Mandating ultrasounds

In addition, to placing new restrictions on first-trimester abortion providers, the General Assembly is considering a bill to place more undue burdens on women seeking abortion care. Delegate Mark Cole (R-88) is the patron of HB 2433, which would require every pregnant woman to have an ultrasound prior to obtaining an abortion.

This bill invades the doctor-patient relationship. In fact, forcing a patient to undergo a procedure that may not be medically relevant or necessary to the patient’s interests violates the American Medical Association’s Code of Medical Ethics.

While opposing some health mandates, Delegate Cole and other out-of-touch lawmakers seem fine with mandates interfering in a woman’s personal, medical decision.

HB 2433 is currently in subcommittee in House Committee for Courts of Justice. If you delegate is a member of the subcommittee or committee, please contact them and urge them to vote against this burdensome legislation!

Now for some good news!

Senator Ralph Northam (D-6) is the patron of SB 967, which would require school districts to teach medically-accurate and evidence-based programs under Family Life Education guidelines. This bill would provide Virginia youth with the knowledge they need to make healthy, lifelong decisions, and will take a step in the right direction to reducing the rates of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. The bill just passed subcommittee, and is expected to go before the Senate Education and Health Committee this Thursday!

Delegate Charniele Herring (D-46) is the patron of HB 2436, which states insurance plans may neither require nor prohibit abortion coverage, leaving coverage up to a woman and her private insurance plan. This bill is currently in subcommittee in the House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee.

However, on the flip side of Delegate Herring’s positive bill, Delegate Benjamin Cline (R-24) and Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26) are offering up bills to prohibit any private insurance plan from covering abortion care. (HB 2147 and SB 1202, respectively.) HB 2147 is currently in subcommittee in the House Commerce and Labor Committee and SB 1202 is in Senate Education and Health Committee.

And finally, Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13) and newly-elected Senator William Stanley (R-19) are both offering up bills to grant “personhood” rights to fetuses. (HB 1440 and SB 1378, respectively.) These bills could go so far as to outlaw certain forms of birth control and all cases of abortion! The bills are currently in committee.

Be sure to keep checking our bill tracker to get the latest updates on all the bills we are following. And be sure to email us to if you have questions about contacting your legislator!

If you are not sure who your legislator is, you can easily find your legislator here. Or email us for more info!

As a final reminder, remember to join us this Thursday, January 27 for Pro-Choice Lobby Day in Richmond! Registration is still open, so be sure to register online today!

Additionally, be sure to sign up for our Legislative Rapid Response Team to help us react rapidly to events as they happen at the capitol!

[Thanks to our interns Sara and Hallie for their work on this post.]

General Assembly Begins Today! (Action Alert)

Today marks the beginning of a 45-day battle to protect reproductive choice in Virginia!

Although the 2011 general assembly session that starts today is a short one for Virginia, we will have our hands full nearly every moment with anti-choice attacks on birth control, abortion access, and comprehensive sex education! We will also be busy advocating for pro-choice policies on issues such as expanding comprehensive sex education for Virginia’s young people and improving contraceptive access for low-income women.

We’ll need your support and your voice to ensure that our efforts in Richmond are successful this year. Here are some ways you can get involved and keep up-to-date on the latest information about protecting and promoting reproductive choice during the general assembly session and beyond!

And don’t forget to join NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, the Virginia Pro-Choice Coalition, and nearly 500 other pro-choice Virginians like you for 2011’s Pro-Choice Lobby Day on January 27, 2011! Register now for your opportunity to tell your elected officials why Virginia is pro-choice!

This promises to be a difficult session for reproductive choice, but together we can protect our freedoms and show lawmakers that Virginia is pro-choice! We will be on the ground in Richmond fighting daily, and I hope I can count on having you standing with us. Stay tuned for updates on more ways you can get involved as the session continues.

Thank you for your support!