UPDATE, April 13, 2020, 11:20 a.m.: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Friday signed the Reproductive Health Protection Act. The law takes effect July 1, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
The Virginia legislature, under Democratic control for the first time since the early 1990s, rolled back years of anti-choice legislation last week when an omnibus pro-choice bill passed both the house and state senate.
The legislation eliminated a forced 24-hour waiting period and ultrasound requirement; ended inaccurate counseling for abortion care patients; and removed targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws, making more clinics eligible to provide abortion care.
The number of abortion clinics in Virginia has dwindled since state Republican lawmakers began imposing anti-choice restrictions almost a decade ago. There were 20 clinics in the state before Republicans’ medically unnecessary regulations took effect in 2012; there are now 14 clinics.
Rewire.News spoke to state Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), who sponsored the omnibus legislation in the state senate, via email about what might come next for protecting and expanding reproductive rights in Virginia. The following interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
JM: The Reproductive Health Protection Act is a huge step forward to remove politically motivated laws that stand between a woman and her doctor. This bill reflects the will of the clear majority of Virginians who trust and support a woman’s right to make her own personal reproductive health-care decisions—free from political interference.
A recent Public Policy Polling poll from January 2020 reflects that sentiment and reveals that 79 percent of Virginians support safe, legal abortion care and do not want politicians interfering in a woman’s ability to make this personal health-care decision. That being said, it’s going to be hard for anti-choice legislators to gain a majority with a Commonwealth that is overwhelmingly supportive of reproductive freedom and without the benefit of gerrymandered districts.
We’re also not finished. I will continue fighting for more legislation that secures a future in Virginia where a woman’s ability to make her own reproductive health-care decisions is protected for generations to come.