Your LAST chance to speak out against dangerous TRAP restrictions!

By Sarah Hogg, Advocacy & Communications Intern. Contact her @SarahLovely or e-mail her here.

We have one last chance to speak up for women’s health centers in Virginia. Have you taken action yet? 

Last year, the Virginia Board of Health finalized burdensome and medically-unnecessary restrictions (also known as TRAP regulations) designed to close Virginia women’s health centers that provide cancer screenings, family planning, and safe, legal abortion. Thankfully, after Gov. McAuliffe initiated a review last month, the Virginia Department of Health is now reviewing these dangerous regulations to decide whether they should be repealed, amended, or upheld.

Today is the LAST day of the public comment period on TRAP restrictions – which means this our last chance to speak out against the regulations before the Department of Health completes their review.  Make public comment now! 

Pro-choice Virginians from across the Commonwealth have already stepped up in a big way to help us keep our health centers open. On Tuesday we – along with our allies from ProgressVA, ACLU of Virginia, and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia – delivered 4,844 pro-choice, anti-TRAP comments to the Virginia Department of Health!

Our box of 4,844 comments to the Virginia Department of Health

This is a huge step — but we have even more work to do before midnight tonight. Please submit your comment now & help us reach our goal of 5,000 comments against TRAP restrictions! 

You and I know just how much is at stake here.  If TRAP regulations are not repealed or amended , the repercussions for women, families, and healthcare across the state will be swift and severe. Under these archaic laws, three women’s health clinics across the Commonwealth have already had to close their doors or stop providing abortion services. If more women’s health centers are forced to close, Virginia women and families will become even more isolated from the critical healthcare they need and deserve.

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NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, ProgressVA, ACLU of Virginia, and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia deliver comments to the Board of Health!

At midnight tonight, the Virginia Board of Health will stop accepting comments and will begin its review, to be completed by October 1st by Health Commissioner Marissa Levine. Don’t miss your chance to be a part of history.

Speak out against TRAP restrictions now! 

Stop Attorney General Cuccinelli & help us keep our clinics open!

By Alena Yarmosky, Advocacy & Communications Manager

This Friday, the fate of women’s health and safety in Virginia will be decided.

The Virginia Board of Health will meet on Friday April 12th for its final vote on TRAP regulations, politically motivated and burdensome hospital construction requirements that could force the majority of Virginia’s women’s health centers to close as early as next year.

RSVP to join us in Richmond THIS FRIDAY to stand for women’s health!

Last spring, Virginia women won a huge victory when the Board of Health voted to exempt existing abortion providers from these ridiculous and unnecessary construction requirements. But that wasn’t good enough for Attorney General Cuccinelli, who used every trick in the book – including pressure tactics, legal fiction, and outright lies – to bully the Board into changing their minds.

keep our clinics open

Now, the Board of Health is set to make its final decision on the fate of women’s health in the Commonwealth – and it’s critical that you are there to stand with us!

You and I know the truth: from day one AG Cuccinelli has been pulling the strings behind the scenes, and has used his office to corrupt what should be a scientific and evidence based regulatory process. Now, he is even refusing to resign as Attorney General while running for Governor, a tradition 9 of his predecessors have embraced.

Is Cuccinelli staying on as AG just to make sure TRAP regulations pass…and our clinics are forced to close? We wouldn’t be surprised – and it’s absolutely critical that we’re prepared. Please join us on Friday to fight TRAP and take a final stand in the battle for Virginia women’s health.

Feel free to email me with questions or for more information! I hope to see you there!!

Pro-Choice Day of Action

Last Thursday, the Virginia Pro-Choice Coalition held our annual statewide Pro-Choice Day of Action!

This year we focused our advocacy efforts on two main issues. First, we advocated in support of  legislative efforts to implement Medicaid extension in the Virginia’s budget, which would ensure that an additional 400,000 Virginians have access to basic health care, including cancer screenings and birth control. Second, we encouraged all pro-choice Virginians to submit a public comment against proposed targeted regulations on abortion providers (also known as TRAP regulations). If approved as written, TRAP regulations would require Virginia’s women’s health centers  to meet medically-unnecessary hospital style standards (not required of any other health care facility in the Commonwealth) and would force the majority of our women’s health centers to close.

JMU Faces 4 Choice

With the help of hundreds of Virginians and reproductive health advocates, we’re happy to report a very successful Day of Action:

  • 245 emails to General Assembly members to support the Medicaid extension
  • 162 activists to support Medicaid extension; 140 whom pledged to contact their Senator
  • At least 35 public comments to oppose TRAP
  • Over 1,700 phone calls to activists on Medicaid extension
  • Over 50 volunteer shifts at 5 different regional phone banks throughout Virginia, including locations in Roanoke, Richmond, Charlottesville, Arlington, and Washington, DC.

In addition, the VA Pro-Choice Coalition also worked with student activists to hold advocacy events on 5 Virginia college campuses, including Virginia Tech, University of Mary Washington, James Madison University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the University of Richmond! Highlights include James Madison University’s “Faces of Choice” campaign (in which our campus intern  Sarah had dozens of her fellow students explain why they are pro-choice and proud), and University of Richmond’s  “I’m Pro-Choice because…” photo campaign & TRAP education. We also have to give a shutout to the University of Mary Washington, where our campus intern Taylor gave out a pyramid of  “Choice Out Loud” swag and worked to engaged her peers on the importance of pro-choice, pro-women policy. We are so proud of our incredible campus representatives and the amazing work they did!!

From tabling, to phone banking, to everything in between – this year’s Day of Action was a huge success! THANK YOU for helping us tell our Representatives in the General Assembly: We are Virginia and we are pro-choice!

im prochoice bc U of R

Calling out the intention of new abortion regulations

We are just over one week out from the September 15 Board of Health meeting in which the Board will vote on new, draft regulations on women’s health centers in Virginia.

Since the Virginia Department of Health issued draft regulations a couple of weeks ago, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia has been working hard as part of the Virginia Coalition to Protect Women’s Health to make sure women in Virginia have continued access to vital reproductive health care. (For an explanation of the regulatory process check out one of our recent blog posts.)

Now that the regulations are public, people are starting to recognize the detrimental effects the draft regulations could have for Virginia women.

This past weekend, the editorial board at The Washington Post called out the intent of the regulations:

“[I]t is hard to imagine why groups that say they are concerned about women’s health would oppose these standards,” the Virginia Catholic Conference said in a statement.

Actually, it’s not hard to imagine at all, because the standards are not really about safety. They are unjustifiably stringent and could force abortion facilities to shut their doors.

A couple of days later, The Virginian-Pilot editorial board had a similar reaction, noting

New regulations proposed for abortion clinics across Virginia would, indeed, tighten standards for patient safety and require a higher level of care.

They would increase the scope and depth of required record-keeping. They would also reduce Virginians’ access to first-trimester abortions.

The piece in The Virginian-Pilot goes on to challenge the supporters of new regulations:

Supporters’ claims that legislation requiring the new regulations was animated by concern for patient safety aren’t fooling anyone. If that were the motive, the law would have been aimed at raising the level of care at every outpatient surgical center across the state rather than simply those that perform five or more first-trimester abortions each month.

And earlier today, Delegate Ken Plum, D-Fairfax, weighed in on the proposed regulations:

At the same time that regulations to ensure that your water is safe to drink and that air pollution be cleaned up are being challenged as being anti-business and government intrusion, stiff regulations to protect women from unspecified health damages while reducing their access to a legal medical procedure are being advanced.

To learn more about how proposed regulations could harm the health of Virginia women, check out the Virginia Coalition to Protect Women’s Health.

And be sure to join us if you can at the September Board of Health meeting in Richmond as we ask the Board only to support new regulations based in medicine, not in dangerous politics.

Breaking: Statement on draft abortion regulations

Today reminds us just how far we still have to go for women’s equality in the United States.

While we celebrate Women’s Equality Day, women’s equal access to comprehensive health care is in danger.

Late this afternoon, the Virginia Department of Health issued a draft of new regulations on women’s health centers in Virginia.

Be sure to read the Virginia Coalition to Protect Women’s Health’s press release with first reactions to the potentially devastating regulations.

And stay tuned for more updates early next week.

Stay safe this weekend!

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.”