|Action||Amend the Regulation after Assessment and Receipt of Public Comment|
|Comment Period||Ends 10/31/2018|
Remove Restrictions on Abortion Access
The Feminist Majority Foundation, based in Arlington, Virginia, is a national organization dedicated to women’s equality and the empowerment of women and girls in all sectors of society. We unequivocally support reproductive health, rights, and justice for all people, which includes the ability of Virginians throughout the state to access women’s health centers that provide essential reproductive healthcare services, including abortion. We ask that the Board of Health, in its review of the “Regulations for Licensure of Abortion Facilities” reject discriminatory, ideologically-driven restrictions on access to abortion and other healthcare.
The Feminist Majority Foundation has consistently opposed politically-motivated restrictions on women’s health centers, which are designed to shut down health care centers that provide abortion services and make safe abortion completely inaccessible. These restrictions are not only medically unnecessary, but they endanger women’s safety, health, and lives by making it more difficult, if not impossible, for women to access comprehensive reproductive healthcare.
We commend the Board of Health for its most recent amendments to 12 VAC 5-412. There has never been a medically justifiable reason for Virginia to regulate abortion providers like hospitals. Instead, singling out women’s health centers for hospital-style regulation is part of a political strategy to shutter women’s clinics and end access to abortion. Prior to the 2016 amendments to 12 VAC 5-412, several Virginia women’s health centers were forced to close or to stop providing abortion care, cutting off access to critically needed health services. The closure of women’s health centers has a disproportionate impact on low-income women and only adds to the structural barriers that many of these women face to accessing preventive care, including birth control, cancer screenings, and testing and treatment for STIs.
Medically unnecessary and discriminatory restrictions on abortion providers also place an unconstitutional burden on people seeking abortion and violate the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. The Board of Health is legally obligated to amend any restrictions that fail to comply with the decision in Whole Woman’s Health. Politicians can never again be allowed to use sham justifications to block Virginians from accessing safe, legal abortion.
The Board of Health must continue to put women’s health above politics and ensure that state regulations respect the constitutional right of Virginians to access abortion.