The ability to make reproductive decisions for oneself is inherent to a person’s ability to determine their life and their future. Reproductive and family planning decisions should be left to a pregnant person and their doctor, not politicians. 

Abortion bans, restrictions, and barriers to reproductive health negatively impact everyone who can get pregnant and their loved ones, but they disproportionately hurt communities of color, people living on lower incomes, undocumented immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community, and people with disabilities.   

Abortion is healthcare. Reproductive healthcare is healthcare. The right to make reproductive decisions is the right to determine one’s future, to protect one’s health, to put one’s family first, to own one’s body and decide what happens to it.  Forcing pregnancy upon people and denying reproductive care is wrong and puts the lives of people who can become pregnant in peril. 

1. Know your rights

A.Know your rights

A.
  • Abortion is still legal in Virginia. If you have an abortion scheduled, show up to your appointment – you can still legally have an abortion here. Although Virginians do not have a right to an abortion, Virginia law allows licensed doctors and/or nurse practitioners to perform abortions. 
  • You must give a medical provider written consent before you can have an abortion. If you are unable to legally give consent, a parent, guardian, conservator, or other authorized person must agree to the procedure on your behalf.  
  • If you are under the age of 18 and need abortion care, but do not want to involve a parent or guardian, you can request a judicial bypass. To seek a judicial bypass, you need to go to court and answer questions before a judge to show that you are mature enough to make your own decision or that having an abortion is in your best interest. There is no jurisdictional requirement in Virginia, meaning you do not have to live in Virginia to seek a judicial bypass or abortion care here. If you need help seeking a judicial bypass, email intake@acluva.org
  • You do not need to undergo a mandatory ultrasound, biased counseling requirements, or a 24-hour waiting period to get an abortion. You and your doctor can determine if an ultrasound is right for you, and you can get your abortion in a single visit to your healthcare provider. 

2. In the legislature

A.In the legislature

A.

What we’ve accomplished

Reproductive Health Protection Act (2020) 

This law repealed Virginia’s Targeted Restrictions Against Providers (TRAP) laws and other invasive and medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion that were enacted in 2012. RHPA repealed the requirement that patients receive an ultrasound and a mandatory 24 hours waiting period before they could have an abortion. 

Repeal Ban on Abortion Coverage in State Exchange (2021) 

This law repealed Virginia’s decade-old ban which prohibited health insurance plans offered via Virginia’s health insurance exchange from providing coverage for abortions. Such coverage has and is accessible for those on private insurance plans. By repealing the abortion ban, those that receive health insurance via the state exchange may now receive coverage. 

2022 Legislative Session Defense

In the 2022 legislative session, several bad bills aimed at curtailing reproductive freedom were introduced and, thankfully, defeated. Efforts to mandate "informed consent" before someone can get an abortion, which was really a guise to allow the presentation of prejudiced and misleading information meant to dissuade someone from getting an abortion, failed. A 20-week abortion ban and a bill to restrict nurse practitioners from performing abortions also failed.

What to expect in 2023 

Governor Youngkin has stated his support for a 15-week abortion ban, putting together a workgroup composed of four members, tasked with drafting and carrying a bill in the 2023 session. While Governor Youngkin has asked for a 15-week ban, he has expressed he will sign any bill banning abortion that reaches his desk -- whether a 20-week ban or an absolute ban.  

It is critical that you email and/or call your legislator now and demand they oppose any bill seeking to ban abortion in VA. 

3. In the courts

A.In the courts

A.

Falls Church Health Care Center v. Oliver (2018): 

The ACLU of Virginia joined the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood Federation of America in filing a lawsuit to overturn several core components of Virginia’s longstanding, unconstitutional abortion restrictions. These laws targeted abortion providers and harmed patients seeking abortion services by imposing burdensome and medically unnecessary requirements. The laws restricted who may provide abortion care and how they provide it, and placed onerous, unnecessary obstacles in the way of Virginians seeking abortion care. After a two-week trial in 2019, the court enjoined several restrictions, and upheld several others. While the appeal was pending, Virginia’s legislature passed the Reproductive Health Protection Act in 2020, which resolved the issues pending appeal.  

Judicial bypass:  

If you are under 18 and need abortion care, but do not want to involve a parent or guardian, you can request a judicial bypass. To seek a judicial bypass, you need to go to court and answer questions before a judge to show that you are mature enough to make your own decision or that having an abortion is in your best interest. If you need help seeking a judicial bypass, email intake@acluva.org

If you are a Virginia-licensed attorney interested in volunteering to help young people seek judicial bypasses, please contact us at acluva@acluva.org.  

4. Get involved

A.Get involved

A.

If you’d like to join the fight to protect reproductive rights in our Commonwealth, visit our action hub on protecting abortion access in Virginia.   

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