Analysis: SCOTUS Abortion Decision Raises Questions About Constitutionality of Virginia Restrictions 

Analysis: SCOTUS Abortion Decision Raises Questions About Constitutionality of Virginia Restrictions 


From Anna Scholl of Progress VA:

Alexandria, VA – The Virginia Coalition To Protect Women’s Health today celebrated the United States Supreme Court decision invalidating Texas’s clinic shutdown law and its potential impact on Virginia’s sham restrictions.

The Coalition released the following statement from Janice Craft, director of policy and government affairs with NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia: “Today’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstadt does not immediately change the law for any Virginia abortion providers. However, the decision raises serious questions about the constitutionality of Virginia’s statutes and regulations concerning abortion provision. This decision brings those restrictions under greater scrutiny. The Court definitively stated today that no law or regulation could pass constitutional muster unless it offers medical benefits to women that are sufficient to justify the burden it imposes on access.

“We will continue to advocate ensuring regulations of abortion providers reflect medical best practice, rather than political ideology. As the Virginia Board of Health moves forward with amendments to the existing sham restrictions, today’s decision requires that any regulation established by the Board be supported by medical evidence. The Board cannot engage in any rulemaking unless the medical evidence in support of the rule is greater than the burden the rule imposes. Any statute or regulation of abortion providers that is not based in medical evidence is per se unconstitutional. The Board may not establish any regulation that is broader than or that contradicts the Court’s ruling today in Whole Woman’s Health. Any further guidance to the Board will have to come from the office of the Attorney General.”

The Virginia General Assembly passed Targeted Restrictions on Abortion Providers (TRAP) in 2011. The Board of Health implemented restrictions in 2012, which were then the strictest in the country. Since TRAP passed in 2011, Virginia has lost one third of its first trimester abortion providers. Like the Texas restrictions challenged in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstadt, Virginia’s sham restrictions include requirements for hospital admitting privileges and hospital-like building requirements. The Virginia Board of Health will vote on September 15th on proposed amendments to roll back some of these restrictions. A public comment period on the restrictions runs through July 1st. Members of the public can submit comment at

  • John Farrell

    Seems like Fairfax City’s TRAP zoning law falls under this Court decision in addition to Va.’s state version.

  • lowkell

    From Progress VA:

    Women’s Health Advocates and Legislators Call for Repeal of Dangerous Abortion Restriction

    “A woman’s ability to access abortion must be a right not just in theory, but in reality,” says Cianti Stewart-Reid, Executive Director, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia

    Richmond, VA – In response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt striking down Texas abortion restrictions yesterday, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, Progress Virginia, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia and more than a dozen state lawmakers announced plans to repeal the Virginia Targeted Restriction on Abortion Providers (TRAP) the law, passed in 2011, that threatens women’s access to safe and legal abortion.

    Statement from Cianti Stewart-Reid, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia:

    “Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court made clear that politicians cannot pass laws to block access to safe and legal abortion. This decision is a step in the right direction, yet far too many women cannot access abortion because of restrictions in Virginia. A woman’s ability to access abortion must be a right not just in theory, but in reality.”

    Statement from Anna Scholl, Executive Director of Progress Virginia:

    “Today, we’re calling on the Virginia General Assembly to repeal the politically motivated TRAP restrictions passed in 2011. This restriction has already contributed to the closure of seven abortion providers in Virginia, and enough is enough. Every woman should be able to make her own decisions about abortion, and politicians should not be able to take that right away.”

    Statement from Tarina Keene, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia:

    “It’s time to end this sham law and regulations and put women and medicine first. The Court has spoken loud and clear. We call on the General Assembly to heed the Supreme Court’s ruling and repeal Virginia’s politically motivated TRAP law.”

    We’re proud to stand with the following legislators who support immediate repeal of the 2011 TRAP restrictions:

    Senator Barbara Favola

    Senator Janet Howell

    Senator Mamie Locke

    Senator Scott Surovell

    Senator Jennifer Wexton

    Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn

    Delegate Patrick Hope

    Delegate Kaye Kory

    Delegate Jennifer McClellan

    Delegate Marcia Price

    Delegate Mark Sickles

    Delegate Marcus Simon

    Delegate Jeion Ward

    Delegate Vivian Watts

    Nationwide, state lawmakers have passed more than 316 restrictions on abortion since 2011, and have introduced 442 in the first six months of 2016 alone. A PerryUndem poll commissioned by Vox found that the majority of Americans oppose restrictions meant to shutter health centers or make it more difficult for women to access abortion, and that 70 percent of Americans don’t want to overturn Roe vs. Wade.