by Aisha Huertas Michel, Director, Patricia M. Arnold Women's Rights Project
On April 27, the Manassas City Council moved one step closer to changing the City’s zoning law in a way that makes it unnecessarily burdensome for women’s health centers that provide abortion services to locate or move within Manassas.
As we told you last month, the proposed zoning law ignores the recommendations of the city’s own zoning experts. Instead, three City Council members prioritized their own ideological objectives to block abortion access in the city, and while the remaining three Council members voted against, the Mayor broke the tie.
The new zoning law would require most abortion providers – any provider who performs five or more abortions per month and is used principally for performing surgery - who want to locate in Manassas to have a special permit to practice in the city. The move may sound harmless, but the special permit requires hurdles not applied to other medical offices that provide similar, noninvasive outpatient care, and have similar zoning impacts, like doctors and dentists – hurdles like added fees, public hearings, and approval from City Council. These hurdles will not only make it more difficult for doctors and other medical professionals to provide access to affordable abortion services, but also access to affordable preventative care, including cancer screenings and birth control. Supporters of this change are so focused on squashing Manassas’ women’s constitutionally protected access to abortion that they are not thinking of the far reaching consequences of their strictly political actions.
The City Council has one last chance to reject these unfair zoning laws. On Monday, May 11 they will meet for the final vote. If you are a Manassas resident, don’t let that final vote take place without letting Council Members Marc Aveni and Ian Lovejoy, Vice Mayor Jonathan Way, and Mayor Hal Parrish know that what they are doing is wrong. Call them today.
The city’s zoning law should not make it disproportionately difficult for women’s health centers to operate or locate within Manassas. The zoning of any health care provider, be it physician’s or dentist’s offices or abortion providers, must be done without discrimination and applied equally.
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