By Kathy Greenier, Reproductive Freedom Project Director
This summer, thousands of Virginians spoke out to say that medicine and science, not politics, should govern rules for women’s health centers. Yesterday, in a major victory for women’s health, the Virginia Health Commissioner publicly agreed with thousands of women, doctors, and advocates that current, medically-unnecessary regulations for women’s health centers should be amended.
After months of outreach efforts that produced more than 10,600 comments in support of amending the targeted restrictions of abortion providers (TRAP) in Virginia, the Commissioner’s decision is certainly a victory. But, our work is not complete.
The current regulations require women’s health centers to meet architectural requirements that no other health care facility in Virginia must meet and that have no basis in patient safety, like five foot wide hallways, covered exits and entryways, and hospital-style HVAC systems. If women’s health centers can’t meet these medically unnecessary requirements, they must close, cutting off access for tens of thousands of women to critical health services like cancer screenings, abortion, and family planning.
While the Health Commissioner recommends reviewing and updating the regulations, the Board of Health will decide exactly what specific changes should be made. But, before the Board can consider specific amendments, it must first agree with the Commissioner’s decision to amend the regulations. This decision will be made during the Board’s December 4 meeting.
Doctors and medical groups oppose the current rules because they have no basis in medicine or patient safety, and while the Commissioner’s decision is a great first step, all advocates for women’s health must continue to urge the Commissioner and the Board to amend the rules and put medicine above politics.
Together, we’ll make sure the Board removes these harmful regulations. Have women’s health centers helped you? Then take action now - share your story! It’s time to scrap TRAP.