The War on Women has been fought over the past year or more in most of the country. With Virginia’s off year elections comes the opportunity for the state to come out in front on issues. So it should not have been a surprise when Gov. Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli began rolling out legislation and laws limiting women’s health care options and rolling back the clock on abortion access.
Since taking office in 2010 McDonnell has limited options of low-income women to access abortion when their health is at risk, overriding doctor’s recommendations. It is now illegal for women in Virginia to purchase private insurance that includes abortion coverage.
A few months ago, McDonnell made headlines with moves to attack first trimester by reclassifying women’s health centers and abortion providers who perform four or more abortions a month, as hospitals. This means meeting hospital code requirements, an expensive and unnecessary cost. The TRAP Laws have forced many women’s health centers in Virginia to close their doors, with more likely to follow.
Dr. Howard Jones wrote to the Virginia Board of Health of his concerns about what these laws could mean. While limiting access to abortions, this law does nothing to protect patient confidentiality, the methods to implement the law also do not seem to be related to improving patient outcomes. As we have seen over and over again this year, attacks on women’s health and access to care are coming as political hardball instead of solving real issues, creating jobs, or improving the everyday lives of citizens around the country. This situation is crystal clear in Virginia.
A rally was held in Richmond, VA on October 15th to protest the Virginia Board of Health’s passage of the TRAP Laws. Hundreds gathered by the Virginia Commonwealth University campus to encourage McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to reconsider their stance.
Last week Gov. McDonnell was invited to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to speak at the 12th Annual Legal Reform Summit. The Virginia Coalition to Protect Women’s Health, formed earlier this year in response to McDonnell’s war on women’s health, and NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia organized a rally. Along with students from George Mason University, the group approached McDonnell requesting a meeting to discuss the new abortion regulations in the state – and he agreed!
Organizations around Virginia have fought diligently against every regulation and law the state has put forth this year in an attack on women’s health and access to care. Their work and this opportunity to discuss the regulations with McDonnell means so much to so many women in the state.
The Virginia Coalition to Protect Women’s Health is also encouraging Virginians to contact Governor McDonnell and ask him to reject new regulations on women’s health centers in Virginia.