My name is Alena Yarmosky and I am the new Advocacy & Communications Manager with NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. I joined the NARAL VA team two weeks ago, and have loved getting to know all of our amazing volunteers and supporters. I look forward to working with you all in the coming weeks and months!
Unfortunately, it has been a tough few days for us here at NARAL Pro-Choice VA, and for women all over the state. At the Virginia Board of Health meeting last Friday (September 14) the Board of Health voted to subject existing women’s health centers to burdensome and medically-unnecessary TRAP regulations.
These proposed construction requirements (now approved by the Board) have nothing to do with protecting women’s health and safety, and are instead designed to force health centers across the state to close. Renovations to meet TRAP regulations could cost millions of dollars, and are simply not an option for many of Virginia’s health centers. If signed into law, TRAP regulations could force over 15 clinics to shut their doors, and keep thousands of Virginia women from accessing essential medical care.
We have activist Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to blame. Cuccinelli has done everything in his power (and many things beyond his legal and constitutional authority) to bully the Board into reversing its June decision and imposing restrictive TRAP regulations. Five Board of Health members caved to his pressure tactics and switched their votes, with a total of 13 out of 15 members voting to put Cuccienlli’s political agenda before medical fact (Jim Edmonson and Dr. Anna Jeng were the only two who stood strong).
Even worse, Friday’s Board meeting was a blatant denial of public comment and the democratic process. Time for public input was slashed in half, and hundreds of pro-choice activists and experts were shut out of the building despite repeated requests to move the meeting to a location that could accommodate all participants.
Unfortunately we can’t be too surprised by the Board’s vote, or by this administration’s blatant disregard for women’s health and rights. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Governor Bob McDonnell have spent their careers putting an anti-choice political agenda before health, safety, and Virginia law. AG Cuccinelli has publicly stated that his goal is to end abortion in Virginia, and his brazen actions over the last three months have shown us just how serious he is.
We may have lost the battle, but the fight for women’s health is just beginning.
In the coming months, we will continue to fight TRAP before it becomes law. But as the state legislative session draws nearer, Virgina women will again find themselves the target of anti-choice legislators determined to play doctor and erode critical access to reproductive health care.
We will face “personhood”, a bill that could outlaw birth control, common fertility treatments, and abortion – even in cases of rape or incest. We will face attempts to end abortion after 20 weeks, attempts to ban insurance companies from covering reproductive services, and continued attempts to close clinics through endless bureaucratic hoops and bounds of red tape.
We have to fight back! As Advocacy & Communications Manager here at NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, fighting for women’s health (through phone banking, canvassing, voter drives and more) is a large part of my job. But we need you to stand with us.
Please email me to sign up to volunteer, or if you’re interested in learning more about NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia’s plans for the fall. I look forward to working with you all, and continuing our fight for women’s health.