If we are going to have a shot at turning back last year’s overwhelming tide of anti-choice legislation, we need your help right now. Over the past two years, Virginia’s lawmakers have passed some of the most stringent restrictions on reproductive rights in the county. We all remember 2012’s outright War on Virginia Women: attempts to grant “personhood” status to fertilized eggs, attempts to force trans-vaginal ultrasounds on women seeking safe legal abortion care, and even a bill to ban abortion outright at 20 weeks – with no real exemption for the health or life of the mother.
Now, we’re fighting back. Our pro-choice allies in the General Assembly have introduced legislation to protect women’s rights, ensure access to reproductive health care, and repeal the worst of last year’s attacks:
- Sen. Ralph Northam and Sen. Barbara Favola have introduced legislation (SB 1080 and SB 1082) in the Senate to repeal Virginia’s invasive forced ultrasound law, which currently forces Virginia women to undergo a mandatory ultrasound 24 hours before accessing her constitutionally-protected right to an abortion.
- Sen. Mark Herring has introduced SB 1115 and SB 1116, which would repeal and negate onerous and burdensome targeted regulations (TRAP) on women’s health centers in Virginia. If not repealed, TRAP regulations will likely force the majority of Virginia’s women’s health clinics to shut their doors.
- Sen. Donald McEachin has introduced the Birth Control Protection Act (SB 783), to formally distinguish between FDA-approved methods of contraception and abortion. Without a formal definition, anti-choice lawmakers can continue to blur the line between birth control and abortion, and may attempt to restrict birth control as stringently as abortion.
If passed, these bills will help restore reproductive rights, protect women’s health, and make a positive difference for thousands of Virginian women. But first, each bill must be passed by the Senate Education and Health Committee if they are to continue to the Senate floor for a full vote.
Every one of our pro-choice bills in the Senate (including every one mentioned above) will be heard in the Senate Ed & Health committee this Thursday, January 17. If these important bills have even the slightest shot at becoming law, they must be approved by Committee on Thursday.
TAKE ACTION NOW: If your Senator serves on this committee, tell him or her to support these critical pro-choice bills! Here is the list of Senators on the Education and Health Committee who will be considering these bills:
- Sen. Steve Martin (District 11) firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sen. Richard Saslaw (District 35) email@example.com
- Sen. Louise Lucas (District 18) firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sen. Janet Howell (District 32) email@example.com
- Sen. Stephen Newman (District 23) firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sen. Harry Blevins (District 14) email@example.com
- Sen. Mamie Locke (District 2) firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sen. George Barker (District 39) email@example.com
- Sen. Ralph Northam (District 6) firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sen. John Miller (District 1) email@example.com
- Sen. Ralph Smith (District 19) firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sen. Jeffrey McWaters (District 8) email@example.com
- Sen. Richard Black (District 13) firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sen. Charles Carrico (District 40) email@example.com
- Sen. Thomas Garrett (District 22) firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are unsure who your Senator is, please go here to find out.
If your Senator is serving on the Ed & Health Committee (and will be voting on these bills Thursday), now is the time to CONTACT. Email or call your Senator and urge them to vote in support of these bills and send this important legislation to the Senate floor!
Sample letter to your Senator:
Dear Senator [NAME],
As your constituent, I’m contacting you today to urge you to vote in support of SB 1082, SB 1080, SB . 1115, SB 1116 and SB 783. If passed these bills will protect reproductive rights, repeal Virginia’s most burdensome and unnecessary restrictions on women’s health, and increase access to essential medical care for thousands of Virginian women.
Currently, Virginia’s forced ultrasound law inappropriately inserts the government into the homes and doctor’s offices of women and their families. This law marks the first time the Virginia General Assembly has mandated a diagnostic test that supersedes a doctor’s advice and a patient’s consent, and represents a significant road block for women seeking to access their constitutionally protect right to an abortion. SB 1080 and SB 1082 would repeal and negate this law and ensure that Virginian women are given the support and respect they deserve. Please vote in favor of these bills.
Senate Bill 1115 and Senate Bill 1116 would eliminate the law passed in 2011 that requires women’s health clinics to comply with the construction standards of new hospitals. Targeted regulations on abortion providers (TRAP) are burdensome, medically unnecessary, and nothing but a thinly-veiled attempt to shut down Virginia’s women’s health clinics. First trimester abortions are among the safest of all medical procedures, and Virginia’s women’s health centers have exemplary health records and have been inspected and listened by the Virginia Department of Health. If passed, SB 1115 and SB 1116 would ensure that the majority of women’s health centers remain open and continue to provide essential medical care. Please support these bills.
Finally, please vote in favor of SB 783, the Birth Control Protection Act. Currently, the Code of Virginia does not distinguish between FDA-approved methods of contraception and abortion. In absence of a clear definition, there have been attempts to blur the lines between contraception and abortion, as well as limit access to family planning services under the code section relating to abortion. Contraception is basic health care for women, and is used by virtually every sexually active woman of reproductive age. It is essential that birth control remains safe, accessible, and affordable for the women of Virginia.
Again, I urge you to stand with the women of Virginia and your district in supporting these critically important bills.
[Your home address]
Thank you for taking action! Please help us spread the word to your Virginia friends, neighbors, and family members. To stay updated, “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for up-to-the minute news from the halls of the General Assembly. And don’t forget to join us and hundreds of other pro-choice Virginians to mark the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade at the “Rally for Choice” at the Capitol in Richmond on Tuesday, January 22 at 10 a.m!