(With just FIVE DAYS left until the general election, now is the time to give everything you’ve got, to leave it all on the field. To help keep you motivated and focused, we’re running a quick series we’re calling “What’s At Stake Nov. 5th” highlighting a handful of reasons this election is so critically important to Virginians.)
The minute Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court, we knew that the landmark 1973 case guaranteeing every woman in America the constitutional right to access safe and legal abortion was in jeopardy. Whether it would be overturned altogether, or whether case after case would just chip away at that constitutional right, one way or another, our reproductive health and choices were at risk.
What might that mean? Well, according to the criminal code of Virginia, chapter 4: “Crimes Against the Person” (there’s already so much wrong with the fact that restrictions on something that is a constitutional right is in the criminal code, and “against the person?”) Virginia already restricts access to abortions by:
- Requiring “informed written consent,” which includes “medical explanation of the nature, benefits, and risks of and alternatives to an abortion, as well as an “offer to review” a whole host of other information on abortion and other alternatives; and then
- Requiring women to undergo an ultrasound at least 24 hours before an abortion is performed, and then making sure the woman is offered–and signs a waiver if she refuses—to hear the fetal heartbeat, and to see or have a copy of the sonogram image of the fetus.
Additionally, there are restrictions on whether the ACA will cover the procedure, whether the insurance of public employees will cover it, whether public funding will cover it; and lastly, abortion access is especially restricted by regulations making it more difficult for clinics to stay open. As of 2017, 93% of Virginia counties had no clinics that provided abortions, and 80% of Virginia women lived in those counties.
Emboldened by the changes to the makeup of the Supreme Court, states have been passing more and more draconian legislation restricting access to abortion, including multiple states that have passed so-called “heartbeat bills,” outlawing abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, around six weeks into pregnancy, before many women even know they’re pregnant. Several states have enacted “trigger” legislation that would outlaw abortion altogether as soon as Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Think it can’t happen here in Virginia? Think again. Republican Delegate Bob Thomas (R-28) stated on the John Fredericks radio show earlier this year that he doesn’t think bills like that go too far, and that if Republicans take control of the Governor’s mansion and the General Assembly, he’d bring just such a bill here. Once again, the Virginia GOP is wildly out of touch with voters. 73% of Americans don’t think Roe v. Wade should be overturned, with 67% thinking that abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
Nevertheless, Republicans in Virginia have been campaigning hard on (falsely) calling their Democratic opponents “baby killers,” feeding on the ridiculous frenzy that followed a bill last session to remove the mandatory second and third medical opinions before a third-trimester abortion–legal in Virginia only when the woman’s health is in danger–can be performed. The requirement to get three doctor’s opinions (there is no other medical procedure, life-threatening or otherwise, where it is required by law to get a second or third opinion) is especially onerous to those living in small towns and rural areas, where they are lucky to be able to find one maternal-fetal specialist, let alone a second and third. But this is the direction reproductive rights are taking–with more regulations and more restrictions and more things that come between a woman and her doctor.
The best way to protect your choice, your freedom to control your own health care decisions, is to vote in pro-choice legislators. You have that chance Nov. 5th. Fight like your rights depend on it, because they do.