By Del. Kathy Tran (D-Fairfax) and Reproductive Justice Leader Margie Del Castillo
You can tell who is a true ally during a time of crisis. In 2019, the reproductive health advocacy community in Virginia faced one of its most difficult moments—when a coordinated national right-wing campaign ran a disinformation campaign against the REPEAL Act. Many Democrats folded or shied away from the fight. Senator Jenn McClellan stood by our side.
That is one of the many reasons Jenn is the best candidate to lead Virginia forward and protect reproductive health. She has single-handedly delivered more progress on access to reproductive healthcare than any other Virginia elected official in the past 15 years. She has always stood with the reproductive health advocacy community during hard times, including leading the fight to stop transvaginal ultrasounds and other restrictions during the McDonnell era.
Last month’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a Mississippi abortion case that could pose a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade is a stark reminder of what’s at stake in this year’s gubernatorial election. The next Governor can either lead Virginia forward to become a safe haven for reproductive rights — or can send us backwards and undo our progress. Jenn McClellan has been the best reproductive rights champion in Virginia for the past 15 years, and she is the right candidate to lead Virginia through the next four years — no matter what the Supreme Court does.
Jenn got her start in the Republican legislature, where she continually pushed back on politically motivated restrictions on reproductive health. In 2012, McClellan fought against a slew of abortions and reproductive restrictions, including HB 1, a “personhood” bill that would have defined life at conception and was the first step to outlawing all abortion in Virginia.
The first pregnant delegate in Virginia history, Jenn has been a stalwart in the fight for reproductive access and protection. Jenn even brought her own copy of “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” to the House floor to explain to the Republican majority how their anti-choice bill would force women who had incomplete miscarriages to undergo unnecessary ultrasounds.
Jenn built the brick wall to protect reproductive rights in Virginia, expanding access and supporting a vision for true reproductive justice in the Commonwealth. In 2020, Jenn led the passage of the Reproductive Health Protection Act, the first proactive expansion of abortion rights in Virginia history, which eliminated mandatory ultrasounds, 24-hour waiting periods, and TRAP laws. Just this year, Jenn carried the bill to make Virginia the first state in the South to remove the ban on abortion coverage for health insurance plans offered through the health benefits exchange.
Jenn has also increased access to all aspects of reproductive health, including contraceptives, prenatal care, and nursing protections. She has expanded access to birth control, supported Medicaid access for new mothers for the first full year after birth, and funding for home visiting programs for pregnant and postpartum care, introduced budget amendments to allow the payment for prenatal care for all children regardless of the expectant mother’s immigration status, and increased nursing protections for all Virginians.
Jenn is the best candidate for governor to expand reproductive health care coverage, including affordable access to abortion. As governor, she will continue to safeguard Virginians’ access to reproductive health care and fight for more coverage for all the reproductive care that Virginians need and deserve. Jenn will pass a constitutional amendment to enshrine the principles of Roe v. Wade. She will also allocate funding for doula care through Medicaid to address the disproportionate impacts of maternal mortality for Black women and women of color. Jenn will protect reproductive health care and expand access to care, including abortion and birth control, by passing the Reproductive Health Equity Act. She will work to ensure that every Virginian can afford and access the reproductive care they need.
We stand with Jenn, the reproductive champion Virginia needs.