RICHMOND—Today, the Virginia House of Delegates Courts of Justice Committee reported the Reproductive Health Protection Act to the floor; the bill reported from committee on a 12-9 party-line vote. House Bill 980 – which was introduced by House Majority Leader Charniele Herring – expands women’s reproductive health care options in Virginia and will grant women better access to affordable abortion services, by reversing unnecessary, partisan restrictions.
“Today’s vote is a victory for women’s health. We are on our way to reversing nearly 20 years’ worth of anti-choice policies that have made Virginia one of the most hostile places for abortion access,” said Leader Herring. “No woman should be denied affordable and safe healthcare options.”
House Bill 980 repeals requirements forcing women to undergo unnecessary ultrasounds, to face a 24-hour mandatory waiting period, and to sit through mandated biased counseling. It also repeals unnecessary restrictions on medical personnel and facilities, so that qualified advanced practice clinicians may perform abortions during early pregnancy, provided that it falls within the scope of practice. Abortion care providers may offer services to patients without the interference of “targeted” regulations imposed to limit such services.
More than 170 anti-choice bills have been introduced to the Virginia General Assembly since 2001, while Republicans controlled the House of Delegates. These restrictions disproportionately hindered low-income women, young women, rural women, and women of color from receiving medical services — women less likely to have the resources to travel and wait for services.
“These restrictions on women’s health were harmful and disgraceful to women,” said Herring. “The only reason for the government to force a woman to endure an ultrasound is to shame her out of making her own choice, a choice she has a legal right to make for herself.It should be up to the practitioner and medical science to decide whether an ultrasound is needed or not.”