December 6, 2023

Earlier this 12 months, a slender abortion rights majority within the Virginia state Senate blocked the passage of all proposed abortion bans and restrictions. It was an incredible victory that took the fierce advocacy of those that lobbied in opposition to the payments and was bolstered when Senator Aaron Rouse gained a particular election that cemented a pro-reproductive rights majority. However we might simply see that progress rolled again if we don’t elect pro-reproductive rights champions on November seventh. 

This November, all 140 state legislative seats are on the poll in Virginia. With an anti-abortion majority within the Home of Delegates, a slim pro-abortion rights majority within the state Senate, and a governor who’s mentioned he would “fortunately” signal any anti-abortion laws that crosses his desk, we are able to’t afford any losses. If anti-abortion politicians win a trifecta, they’ve assured us they are going to assault abortion entry in Virginia. And we are able to’t belief that they might cease at passing a dangerous 15-week abortion ban. We’ve seen how different states began with a 15-week abortion ban after which continued to chip away at abortion entry. As of right this moment, 21 states have banned abortion at some or all phases of being pregnant, leaving thousands and thousands of individuals to navigate an intricate and delicate net of obstacles impeding their care. Abortion bans criminalize our means to regulate our personal our bodies. 

Virginia is the final protection in opposition to abortion assaults within the South, and that’s why the eyes of the nation are on this election. Practically the entire southern states between Virginia and New Mexico now have abortion bans on the books, together with practically all of Virginia’s rapid neighbors. West Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky have full abortion bans in impact, with few exceptions. Georgia and South Carolina have unconscionable six-week abortion bans in impact. North Carolina not too long ago had a 12-week abortion ban take impact with a 72-hour ready interval that makes it tough for many individuals to entry an abortion. Florida has a 15-week ban in impact and handed a 6-week ban that’s at the moment earlier than their Supreme Court docket. The final word objective of anti-abortion extremists pushing dangerous items of laws in states throughout the nation is to ban abortion, and so they gained’t cease till they’ve achieved it. We merely can’t take something as a right. We have to attain each voter and clarify the stakes. 

Defending abortion entry in Virginia is totally vital for Virginians and those that come right here to obtain care. From the South via the Midwest, these bans are hurting sufferers, suppliers, and their communities. That is very true for Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and different individuals of coloration who disproportionately really feel the results of abortion bans and restrictions because of this nation’s legacy of racism and discrimination. While you add the opportunity of having low-incomes, missing entry to dependable transportation and being beneath or uninsured, the challenges compound, making abortion tough and sometimes unimaginable to entry. Many sufferers are compelled to journey to much less restrictive states at nice monetary and emotional price to themselves and their households. 

Moreover, suppliers are being denied the power to supply the very well being care they’ve educated to offer, beneath risk of shedding their licenses or jail time. Fairly than apply in states the place well being care is criminalized, many suppliers are leaving, labor and supply items are closing, and maternal well being deserts are growing. Medical college students searching for the superior abortion coaching they should meet all of their affected person’s distinctive wants should select between leaving abortion restricted states the place they at the moment reside to obtain evidence-based coaching in states with out abortion bans, or being unable to satisfy the total wants of their affected person inhabitants. 

Abortion bans make it each tougher to get an abortion AND make being pregnant much less secure. Sufferers are being denied miscarriage care, compelled to hold non-viable pregnancies, or informed they’ll’t be handled till they get sicker. Many are compelled to stay pregnant in opposition to their will or flee their houses to entry important well being care. How near loss of life does somebody must be in an effort to get the care they want and who will get to determine? 

Each particular person ought to have the liberty to determine if and once they have youngsters. Virginians overwhelmingly agree that abortion is a deeply private choice that ought to stay between a affected person and their well being care supplier – not a call for politicians to intervene in. Because the final state within the South the place abortion stays with out a post-Dobbs choice ban, Virginia is actually holding the road. We have to maintain it that means. 


Jamie Lockhart is the Government Director of Deliberate Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, a statewide advocacy group whose mission is to protect and broaden entry to reproductive well being care via laws, public training, electoral exercise and litigation within the Commonwealth of Virginia.