The 2013 General Assembly session was fast and furious! Between attacks on birth control, pro-choice repeal bills, and sneaky amendments in the works, you may be confused about what exactly this year’s GA session means for the women of Virginia. But don’t worry – we’re here to break it down.
This year pro-choice champions in the Virginia House and Senate carried a total of 11 pro-choice bills, including legislation to repeal TRAP regulations, protect birth control in the Commonwealth, and strike Virginia’s current mandatory ultrasound requirement. We also faced 5 anti-choice bills, including legislation to restrict insurance coverage for birth control, ban sex-selective abortion, and repeal Medicaid funding for women with severe fetal anomalies.
Unfortunately, despite the valiant efforts of our legislative allies and our amazing pro-choice supporters, almost all pro-choice bills were defeated this session. Virginia’s anti-choice politicians were quick to strike down critical legislation to repeal TRAP regulations and the forced ultrasound law – in one case without even allowing for debate or discussion! Thankfully, we were happy and proud to see the passage of Del. Jennifer McClellan’s bill HB 1876, a pro-choice measure that will eliminate the waiting period before sterilization for Virginia residents who have not yet had children. Currently, childless women and men in Virginia are required to wait 30 days before obtaining an elective sterilization procedure, while those with children are not. This bill makes it easier for every person to decide whether and when to create a family, and we thank Del. McClellan for her great work on this!
We are also relieved to report that despite several legislative attempts to restrict women’s health, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia and our allies were able to defeat all anti-choice legislation this session – a huge win considering our overwhelming anti-choice state government! We could not have done it without you and the hundreds of other pro-choice Virginians who contacted their representatives and demanded an end to Virginia’s War on Women. Thank you for everything you have done!
Unfortunately, while the session may have come to an end, the fight is far from over. As reported in a recent Virginian Pilot article, Governor McDonnell is quietly planning to attach an amendment to health care reform legislation that would severely restrict Virginian women’s ability to access critical health care. Although we were able to defeat all anti-choice bills at the committee level, Governor McDonnell would attach his amendment to a bill that has already cleared both the House and Senate – and would go to a vote by both chambers during the General Assembly’s veto session at the end of March. Get more information McDonnnell’s behind-the-scenes abortion ban – and help us fight back!
Ultimately, beyond the legislative antics and extreme anti-choice rhetoric (check out this gem from Sen. Dick Black), every General Assembly session reminds us of how lucky we are to work with Virginia’s amazing, passionate, and unstoppable pro-choice activists! This year we stood with you in Richmond to honor 40 years of Roe v. Wade, participated in a super successful Pro-Choice Day of Action, and even took to twitter to fight for increased health care coverage for hundreds of thousands of Virginia’s women and families.
We look forward to your support, activism, and enthusiasm as we continue the fight for reproductive rights in the Commonwealth!