Virginia General Assembly Votes to Roll Back Harmful Restrictions on Women’s Reproductive Choices
RICHMOND—The Virginia House of Delegates voted for two bills expanding reproductive rights for women in the Commonwealth, which will remove some harmful restrictions on abortion access in first-trimester pregnancies. The House voted Wednesday night to pass HB 980 with the Senate’s amendment on a 52-44 vote, sending the bill to the Governor’s desk. The Senate companion bill (SB 733) passed the House today on a 53-45 vote and outlines the removal of the same restrictions, sending the bill back to the Senate.
“Medical decisions should be between a woman and her health care providers. Medical professionals know the proper protocol for each individual patient, not politicians,” House Majority Leader Charniele Herring said. “The Reproductive Health Protection Act accomplishes this. I am proud to serve as the patron for the bill, ensuring that all women in the Commonwealth have access to high-quality reproductive healthcare.”
HB 980 seeks to roll back restrictions placed on patients and healthcare providers by past General Assemblies, aimed to make it harder for women to obtain legal and safe abortions. The restrictions the bill removes include:
- TRAP laws which put unnecessary requirements on medical facilities performing abortions. These laws end up closing clinics or keep facilities from providing services.
- Placing limits on which healthcare professionals are allowed to administer services. These restrictions aim to reduce the number of abortion providers and drive up costs when only doctors are able to perform the procedure.
- The forced-ultrasound and mandated-biased-counseling requirements are designed to shame women out of making their own decision.
- The 24-hour mandatory delay — which often drags out longer. This makes it harder for women who live far from existing clinics to receive care, since it requires multiple trips or overnight stays.
These requirements disproportionately affect women of color, rural women, women earning low incomes, women without reliable transportation, and young women.
The House voted on HB 980 Wednesday night after passing the original bill on Jan 28 and the Senate passed the bill on Monday.