Legislative Update: Taking Action for Reproductive Freedom in the Virginia General Assembly

By Miriam Stiefel, ACLU of Virginia Reproductive Freedom Project Internreprofreedom_justice scales

As we near crossover on February 11th, 2014 – the General Assembly’s midpoint where bills pass to the other house or die for the session – now is the time to take stock of measures relating to reproductive freedom and how to take action. Here are some of the bills advancing reproductive freedom you should know about (you can read even more about each here):

  • Repeal Mandatory Ultrasound. Since 2012, when Virginia passed a mandatory ultrasound law, Virginia women must undergo a mandatory ultrasound followed by a 24-hour waiting period before receiving an abortion. The law is intended to shame, judge, and make a woman change her mind about abortion, but advocates for reproductive freedom know that requiring an ultrasound before abortion is really about political interference, not informed consent. The ACLU of VA supports bills that seek to repeal the mandatory ultrasound law and the 24-hour waiting period, such as house bills HB546, HB547, and HB1056, and Senate Bill SB617.
  • Repeal Abortion Coverage Restrictions. HB1186, SB 618 and SB 646 aim to repeal the current law that prohibits insurance policies in the Commonwealth’s healthcare exchange from covering abortion services. It’s wrong for politicians to take away coverage that insurance companies are willing to provide for a safe and legal medical procedure.
  • Sterilization Compensation. Lastly, the ACLU of VA supports the Justice for Victims of Sterilization Act (HB74), which would compensate between 7,200 and 8,300 victims of forced sterilization in Virginia. Between 1927 and 1979 people deemed “unfit” to procreate based on their race, gender, or a physical deformity were sterilized, sometimes without their knowledge, thus, removing their freedom to decide whether or not to have a child.

It’s not too late to take action and advocate for these bills! You can contact your legislator and make sure to join us for the Virginia Pro-Choice Coalition’s Day of Action on February 13, 2014!

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