As reproductive freedom faces unprecedented threats nationwide, Virginia expands access to abortion, thanks to critical electoral victories and a new pro-choice majority
For Immediate Release: February 27, 2020
Today, in a major victory for the 77% of Americans (and the 79% of Virginians) who support reproductive freedom, the Virginia General Assembly passed the Reproductive Health Protection Act (RHPA), a bill that expands access to medically-accurate reproductive healthcare by repealing medically unnecessary requirements that only hurt women and families. It repeals harmful requirements such as forced ultrasounds, biased counseling, mandatory delays, and Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws, which have for years made it harder for Virginians to access abortion care, and inserted politicians in people’s personal decisions about pregnancy. Its passage also illustrates the importance of electoral victories in the state legislature, flipping control of the General Assembly to a majority for reproductive freedom, despite the anti-choice movement’s failed efforts to spread disinformation and confuse voters.
“Today marks an important victory for the overwhelming majority of Virginians and Americans across the country who agree that politicians have absolutely no place in people’s personal decisions about pregnancy,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue. “For too long, anti-choice politicians in Virginia have erected roadblock after roadlock to prevent women from accessing abortion care, meddling in people’s lives to advance an extreme agenda of control. The passage of the Reproductive Health Protection Act, made possible by the new pro-choice majority that NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia and NARAL Pro-Choice America helped elect, is undeniable proof of why elections matter in our collective fight for reproductive freedom, especially with so much on the line.”
“This is an incredible victory for Virginia voters who came out this past November and elected the first ever pro-choice majority General Assembly to protect their reproductive freedoms,” said Tarina Keene, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. “Elections have enormous implications. 79% of Virginians want politicians out of their personal reproductive healthcare decisions and they mean it. And this week, the Virginia state Senate and House delivered on that promise; to put the power back in the hands of Virginia women and give them the ability to make decisions that are best for them, and their families, free from political interference.”
A recent poll in Virginia found that 79% of Virginians support legal access to abortion and believe that government should not prevent a woman from making her own healthcare decisions. Virginians who believe abortion should be legal include a majority of voters across party lines, including 95% of Democrats, 79% of Independents, and 55% of Republicans.
Women should be able to make their own decisions about pregnancy with those they love and trust. Since 2011, anti-abortion politicians in Virginia have introduced over 170 medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion. These restrictions have already closed clinics and prevent qualified medical providers from providing comprehensive reproductive healthcare. The RHPA will give patients, in consultation with their medical providers, the ability to make healthcare decisions based on best medical practices and science, not disinformation and rhetoric that has nothing to do with health and safety.
In November of 2019, Democrats flipped both the State Senate and the House of Delegates, with Democrats who champion reproductive freedom withstanding attacks from anti-choice groups seeking to spread disinformation in the final days of the campaign in order to distract from the Republican party’s hugely unpopular agenda to ban abortion. Last year’s victories in Virginia sent a clear message rejecting anti-choice extremism and sending champions for reproductive freedom to Richmond.
NARAL invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in a two-phased research project (the second phase in partnership with Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Emily’s List, and Center for American Progress Action) to understand how voters respond to disinformation attacks about abortion later in pregnancy and how to respond effectively, including a six-figure total investment in ads and voter contact in Virginia. As part of this effort, NARAL responded to anti-choice attack ads on abortion later in pregnancy head-on by providing the facts about these highly complicated and personal situations.
NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia also ran a five-figure ad buy defending reproductive freedom champions and working to unseat anti-choice incumbents and endorsed in 56 races across the state. NARAL Pro-Choice America and NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia together engaged tens of thousands of voters, including knocking on 46,000 doors, especially in key districts in Northern Virginia, Virginia Beach and the Richmond suburbs and making 10,000 phone calls.
NARAL Pro-Choice America and its network of state affiliates and chapters are dedicated to protecting and expanding reproductive freedom for all. For more than 50 years, NARAL has worked to guarantee that every woman has the right to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion. Since 1969, NARAL has made history, grown to over 2.5 million members, and met the moments that have defined this fight with action, power and freedom. In recognition of its work defending our constitutional right to choose, Fortune Magazine described NARAL as “one of the top 10 advocacy groups in America.”