Grade: Unsatisfactory

The National Women’s Law Center released its latest report card on women’s health initiatives, and the findings are dismal for the nation. While no state received an overall grade of satisfactory, Virginia received an unsatisfactory grade, coming in 15th place. (Vermont and Massachusetts came in first and second place, respectively, receiving satisfactory minus grades.)

Virginia’s unsatisfactory grade confirms what we already know; when politicians like Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (PDF), Governor Bob McDonnell and Delegate Bob Marshall (PDF) choose to play ideological games, women suffer.

Disappointingly, the Center found the percentage of women in counties without an abortion provider increased by ten percent from 47% to 57%, meaning the majority of women in Virginia now do not have access to a local abortion provider. This lack of access can lead to delays in obtaining necessary abortion care.

Think current lack of access is bad news? Well, under the guise of concern for women, anti-abortion opponents are attempting to force 100% of Virginia women to have no access to safe, legal abortion care!

In addition to lack of access to abortion care, the percentage of Virginia women without health insurance also increased, with nearly 20% of women between 18- and 44-years-old without insurance. It is incredibly important that women have access to affordable, vital insurance to both prevent unintended pregnancies and carry healthy pregnancies to term. While the new health care bill will increase the availability of private insurance and Medicaid, out-of-touch Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli opposes supporting low-income women and families, choosing instead to file a lawsuit against the bill fifteen minutes after it was signed.

When our elected officials choose to let ideology trump practical public policy, women’s health suffers. While the disappointing news came at the close of 2010, we know we have our work cut out for us in 2011. Choice in Virginia is under greater threat than ever before. If you are interested in helping us protect choice in the Commonwealth in 2011, check out the website to find out about Pro-Choice Lobby Day, upcoming events, contributing financially or becoming an intern!

Opponents of reproductive choice often go out of their way to block access to affordable, necessary health care. Now that is truly unsatisfactory!

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