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Virginia General Assembly Rejects Governor Youngkin’s “Ethical” Exemption Amendment to the Contraceptive Equity Act 

"The bill now goes back to Gov. Youngkin to either sign the bill as is or veto it"

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From REPRO Rising Virginia:

General Assembly Rejects Governor Youngkin’s “Ethical” Exemption Amendment to the Contraceptive Equity Act

The bill now goes back to Gov. Youngkin to either sign the bill as is or veto it

Richmond, Virginia– In a significant victory for advocates of reproductive health and freedom, the Virginia General Assembly rejected Governor Glenn Youngkin’s proposed religious and “ethical” exemption amendment to the Contraceptive Equity Act (SB238/HB819). The Contraceptive Equity Act aims to address cost barriers to contraceptive access and equity, and seeks to eliminate burdensome co-pays, cost-sharing, reimbursement requirements, and coverage delays. It also widens contraceptive options for multiple healthcare issues. Governor Youngkin’s amendment, which was criticized for its potentially detrimental impact on Virginians’ access to contraceptives, was met with staunch opposition from legislators and advocacy groups.

Governor Youngkin’s proposed amendment to the Contraceptive Equity Act sparked widespread concern among reproductive health advocates and Virginians seeking accessible and affordable contraceptive options. The amendment, as drafted, was deemed dangerously open-ended in its reference to federal law, establishing a vaguely defined loophole regarding what constitutes an “ethical” exemption. Advocates argued that this could lead to more restrictive policies on birth control and limitless ethical objections by employers and health plans, posing a threat to patients’ ability to access contraceptive coverage for any reason.

The fate of this legislation now lies once again in the hands of Governor Youngkin. He must either sign or veto the bills. Advocates urge Governor Youngkin to consider the needs and rights of Virginians and to pass the Contraceptive Equity Act in its original form.  This legislation represents a crucial step forward in ensuring equitable access to reproductive healthcare for all Virginians.  Tarina Keene, executive director of REPRO Rising Virginia, expressed her relief at the General Assembly’s decision, stating, “The rejection of Governor Youngkin’s proposed amendment is a significant victory for reproductive healthcare access in Virginia. The Governor’s amendment threatened to roll back hard-won progress in contraceptive equity and access, especially for marginalized people who already lack adequate access to healthcare. We commend the elected leaders of the General Assembly for standing up for Virginians’ reproductive rights and ensuring that more barriers to contraceptive access are not erected. We implore Governor Youngkin to put aside politics and do the same.”

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REPRO Rising Virginia works to ensure real, reliable, affordable, and timely access to abortion, contraception, and other reproductive health services for every person in Virginia. Through policy, elections, and our advocacy programs, we fight for every Virginian’s right and access to Reproductive Freedom.  

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