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Virginia Board of Health Scraps Unconstitutional Sham Restrictions


Great news, courtesy of Progress VA!

Virginia Board of Health Scraps Unconstitutional Sham Restrictions
Amendments will allow health centers to remain open, protect women’s access to abortion

Richmond, VA—The Virginia Board of Health today voted to rescind unconstitutional sham restrictions on women’s health centers that threatened to cut off access to safe and legal abortion in the commonwealth. The vote was the culmination of a regulatory process initiated in 2014. In voting to amend the clinic shutdown restrictions, Virginia became the first state to take proactive steps to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt without court action.

Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia:

Today’s vote marks the culmination of a five-year regulatory drama that has placed Virginia women’s health and safety in severe  jeopardy by targeting the state’s first trimester abortion providers with unnecessary and politically motivated regulations. We applaud the Board of Health’s years-long work to repeal or amend many of the restrictions that threaten providers’ ability to continue to offer women the full range of necessary reproductive healthcare services, including abortion. We believe the Board’s actions will help protect a Virginia woman’s ability to access safe and affordable abortion care no matter her circumstances. However, until the General Assembly repeals the unconstitutional statute giving rise to these medically unnecessary restrictions, abortion providers will continue to be subjected to sham restrictions that have long been opposed by physicians and other medical experts.

Anna Scholl, executive director of Progress Virginia Education Fund:

“Today the women of Virginia can take a deep breath knowing that for now they will continue to have access to safe and legal abortion. Politicians, not doctors, pushed these sham restrictions to cut off women’s ability to access comprehensive reproductive health care services. A woman who has decided to end a pregnancy deserves to be treated with respect and support, not politically motivated shame and stigma. Today’s vote is a step forward for the women of Virginia but we must to more to ensure politicians stay out of the doctor’s office.”

Cianti Stewart-Reid, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia:

“We applaud the Board of Health for putting women’s health ahead of politics and adopting amendments to the regulations which remove many of the onerous, politically motivated restrictions on providers. For 100 years, Planned Parenthood has provided high quality care to women, men and young people; and, we will always fight for access to the full range of reproductive care including safe and legal abortion.”

Gail Deady, The Secular Society Women’s Rights Legal Fellow at the ACLU of Virginia:

“The Supreme Court made it resoundingly clear that regulations that impose burdens on access to abortion without providing a health benefit are unconstitutional.  Advocates have been saying for years that the restrictions in Virginia are designed only to close clinics and make abortion difficult, if not impossible, to access.  We are proud that today’s vote brings our abortion regulations in line with the rights protected by the Constitution,” said Gail Deady, The Secular Society Women’s Rights Legal Fellow at the ACLU of Virginia.  “That said, the vote today is not a permanent solution.  The board of health has taken a critical step to ensure the health and safety of Virginia women.  It is now up to the legislature to do theirs and repeal the statute in full.”

Margie Del Castillo, Associate Director of Community Mobilization for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health in Virginia: “Today’s win represents years of work by community members and advocates who have fought hard against these sham restrictions. These regulations harm Latina health in particular.  A Latina working to raise the necessary funds for these services must often choose between paying for food, rent, or utilities, and the healthcare she needs.  Harmful, sham restrictions compound the cost for women due to lost wages and added childcare and transportation expenses.  Today’s vote will begin the process of lifting the burden off Latinas and all women in Virginia, who deserve better.”

In June 2016, the United States Supreme Court struck down Texas’s clinic shutdown law, setting a new precedent for state abortion restrictions. Under Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt, laws governing abortion that impose an undue burden on access are unconstitutional unless they provide a larger benefit for women’s health. Virginia’s restrictions clearly do not meet that standard, a point underscored by the fact that no like medical provider is subjected to the same level of restriction.



  • Lieutenant Governor Northam’s Statement on Board of Health Decision to Roll Back Abortion Restrictions

    RICHMOND – Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam released the following statement in response to the Virginia Board of Health’s decision to roll back unconstitutional restrictions to women’s health care services:

    “I applaud the Board of Health for its action today striking down dangerous restrictions that prevented Virginia women from having access to comprehensive reproductive health care services.

    The restrictions were politically-motivated and medically-unnecessary. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Whole Woman’s Health made it clear that such restrictions are unconstitutional.

    Today’s vote moves Virginia in the right direction to help ensure every woman in the Commonwealth can have access to the quality health care she deserves.”

  • Governor McAuliffe Statement on Virginia Board of Health Vote to Remove Onerous Restrictions on Women’s Health

    RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe released the following statement today after the Virginia Board of Health voted 11-4 on regulatory changes that remove onerous restrictions on Virginia’s women’s health clinics that could have forced the closure of many providers:

    “This afternoon’s vote signals a victory and the end of a protracted regulatory fight over the future of women’s health in Virginia. I want to thank the Virginia Board of Health for working to repeal onerous regulations designed solely to reduce or outright remove access to essential reproductive health services for women across the Commonwealth.

    “This vote demonstrates to the rest of the United States and the world that Virginia is a community where people can live, find employment, and start a family without politicians interfering with decisions that should be made by women and their doctors. When I ran for office I promised to be a brick wall for the women of Virginia against any attempts to infringe on their reproductive rights. I’m happy to say that my administration has and will continue to keep that promise.”

  • True Blue

    Barbara Comstock worked hard to get these clinic restrictions and transvaginal ultrasound legislation, as well as deny “certain” couples from adoption services. It is gratifying that her voting record can be her demise, with no resemblance to the bi-partisanship that she touts!

    • But, but, but…what about the Washington (Com)Post??? 😉

      • True Blue

        Editor was trying to be “fair and balanced?” I liked your take on Comstock’s opportunistic nature including domain name acquisition.

  • Hillary for America Statement on Virginia Board of Health Decision to Strike Down Women’s Health Restrictions

    Today, following the Virginia Board of Health’s vote to roll back some of the most restrictive anti-abortion measures in the country, Hillary for America senior policy advisor Maya Harris issued the following statement:

    “This is an important step towards ensuring all Virginia women have access to reproductive health care. We applaud Governor McAuliffe for fighting tirelessly to protect women’s reproductive rights from onerous, medically unnecessary restrictions, but the fight is far from over.

    “Donald Trump said that Virginia women should be punished for choosing to seek an abortion, and during last week’s debate Trump again promised to appoint judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade. In contrast, Hillary Clinton has spent her entire career as a strong advocate for women and their families, and will continue to fight to protect women’s reproductive rights.”