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Video: Virginia Legislators Join Vice President Harris for Discussion on Protecting Abortion Rights

"Legislators Praise VP for Focusing on Critical Issue of Ensuring Virginia Remains a Leader on Reproductive Health"

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From VA Sen. Jennifer McClellan:

Virginia Legislators Join Vice President Harris for Discussion on Protecting Abortion Rights

Legislators Praise VP for Focusing on Critical Issue of Ensuring Virginia Remains a Leader on Reproductive Health

HIGHLAND SPRINGS, VA – Today, Virginia legislators joined Vice President Kamala Harris in Henrico County for a discussion on protecting access to abortion in Virginia, in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

Abortion remains legal in Virginia, but several Republican legislators and Gov. Youngkin have proposed plans that would restrict or ban abortion following the recent Supreme Court decision.

“We are so glad to have Vice President Harris here, not only to hear what we have and are doing in Virginia, but what she and President Biden can do to protect access to reproductive healthcare,” said Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), who hosted the discussion at the IBEW Local 666 in Highland Springs. “In 2020, I worked with Del. Charniele Herring to pass the Reproductive Health Protection Act, repealing medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion. Now, Virginia is the safe haven for abortion care in the South – and we are going to keep it that way.”

Video of the event, posted by Blue Virginia, is here.

“I serve as chair of the Senate Education & Health Committee, where we will hold the brick wall against any bills restricting reproductive rights,” said Senator L. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth), President Pro-Temp of the Senate.

“What is most distressing in this post-Roe time is talk about banning abortions even in the event of rape and incest, irrespective of age,” said Senator Mamie Locke (D-Hampton).

“We will always protect Virginians’ rights to get the care they need, and we welcome the many patients who are coming here now that abortion is banned in their home states,” said Del. Sally Hudson (D-Charlottesville) at the event. “But we also know that influx is straining our already limited provider network. That’s why I’m looking forward to discussing how the state and federal government can work together to strengthen our provider network, so that the rights we have on paper mean that everyone can really get the care they need in practice.”

“We will not allow Virginia to become like other states where abortion was restricted and there was a 33% increase in the death of Black mothers,” said Del. Candi Mundon King, lead for reproductive health policy in the House Democratic Caucus. “We plan to push forward a policy agenda that not only protects abortion, but addresses a range of reproductive healthcare issues, including equitable access to abortion, protecting abortion providers and ensuring access to telehealth medicine.”

“Deciding what happens to our bodies and when is a fundamental human right,” said Del. Michelle Maldonado (D-Manassas). “It’s time to stop speaking about abortion rights as a single moment-in-time issue, and begin speaking more boldly, more clearly and more frequently about it in the context of the full spectrum of lifelong reproductive health that it is.”

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From the White House:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 23, 2022

Remarks by Vice President Harris in a Roundtable Discussion with Virginia State Legislators on Reproductive Rights

IBEW Local 666
Richmond, Virginia​

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Senator McClellan, and for your longstanding work on this issue.

And thank you to all the leaders who are here.  You are not only extraordinary leaders in this beautiful state, but you are national leaders on so many issues.  And so I thank you for the time that you have taken for us to gather today to share information, to collaborate, and to, as appropriate, coordinate around this very important issue, which is that, only weeks ago, the United States Supreme Court took a constitutional right that had been recognized from the American people.  Took a right from the American people and, in particular, the women of America.

And this is no small matter in terms of what this means.  Every day, starting with the day that decision came down, we have seen in our country extremists, so-called leaders, who are in many states criminalizing healthcare professionals; punishing women; passing laws that will ban outright, or essentially ban, a woman’s access to abortion care and reproductive care with no exception, in some states, for rape or incest.

And I will say, as a former prosecutor, I spent a large part of my career specializing in crimes against women and children, and including child sexual assault.  The idea that a so-called leader would pass a law that would prohibit someone who has already endured such an extreme act of violence from making decisions and having autonomy to make the decision about her own body is outrageous.

On this issue, I think it is also important to recognize that you don’t have to abandon your faith or your beliefs to agree that the government should not be making that decision for that woman.  It may not be something you would choose to do, but let’s all agree that when it comes to one of the most intimate decisions that a woman can make, intimate decisions that are about heart and home, she should be able to do that without the government telling her what to do.  She should be able to do that, if she chooses, in consultation with her loved ones, with her physician, with her pastor, her priest, her rabbi, but not have the government telling her what she is supposed to do and what she doesn’t have a choice to do.

These are fundamental points.

And here in Virginia, one of the founding principles for our nation was born, which is about our nation’s commitment to a foun- — foundational and fundamental principle of freedom.  Freedom, liberty — these are the principles upon which our nation was founded.  And these very principles are at stake, not to mention what the Dobbs decision opened the door to in terms of other potential risks to freedoms, such as the freedom to marry the person you love, the freedom to have access to contraception.

And interestingly enough, when you look at the Venn diagram on the issue of attacks, in one circle, on a woman’s freedom to make decisions about her reproductive health; you look at another on the issue of attacks on our LGBTQ+ community; you look at attacks on the freedom to vote, and you will not be surprised to see the intersection in terms of the same people in many of those situations doing all three of those things.

So there is a lot at stake for a lot of people on this issue.  And I am proud to be joined by such extraordinary leaders who are stakeholders, who are legislators to talk about how we will stand for the American people and their rights.

And with that, again, I thank you all this Saturday morning for coming out.  Thank you.

END

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