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2017 Endorsement: Mark Herring for Attorney General
In 2013, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia worked to elect Terry McAuliffe for governor, Ralph Northam for lieutenant governor, and Mark Herring for attorney general because we knew a pro-choice executive branch was the only way to halt increasing restrictions on access to reproductive health care in Virginia.
Over the past four years, all three of them have proven to be a brick wall for reproductive health and abortion access in Richmond. We were thrilled to endorse Mark Herring for Attorney General four years ago because we knew he would stand up for women's health and freedom.
NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia is thrilled to once again endorse Mark Herring for reelection as Attorney General of Virginia in 2017. Mark Herring has been a tireless champion for reproductive rights since he first entered Virginia politics, remaining outspoken and proactive in his efforts to expand access to healthcare for women across the state and nation.
Mark Herring is the sitting Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia. A native of Loudoun County, Mark was raised by a single mother and worked a variety of jobs to pay his way through college at the University of Virginia. He later received a law degree from the University of Richmond School of Law.
Mark has long used his law degree to serve his local community as a public servant, starting when he served as the Town Attorney for Lovettsville from 1992 to 1999. Mark sat on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors before he was elected to the Virginia state Senate in 2007, where he served two terms. When Mark ran for Attorney General in 2013, his integrity and long-standing commitment to progressive values proved instrumental in pushing him over the edge to victory.
Within twelve days of taking office as Attorney General, Mark Herring successfully argued that Virginia’s ban on marriage equality for LGBTQ couples should be struck down – a quick and precedent-setting victory for progressive activists across the Commonwealth. Since then he’s shown an equal commitment to progressive values like protecting reproductive health and justice.
Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt
In June of 2016, the Supreme Court ruled in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt that targeted regulations of abortion providers (TRAP) which caused an undue burden for women seeking an abortion without providing any medical benefit were unconstitutional.Attorney General Herring joined an amicus brief arguing that such restrictions imposed an undue burden on women seeking to terminate a pregnancy. He and his colleagues argued successfully to strike down Texas’ TRAP regulations – and Mark made sure Virginia benefited from the ruling as well.
This groundbreaking case has set the stage for recent efforts to codify the ruling into state law. Bolstered by the Attorney General’s legal opinion in the case and subsequent statements on the Supreme Court ruling, activists in Virginia are closer than ever to repealing all of Virginia’s onerous TRAP laws and bringing Virginia into compliance with the Supreme Court.
Fighting Virginia's TRAP Law
In 2011, Governor Bob McDonnell and anti-abortion politicians in the General Assembly passed SB 924, which singled out first-trimester abortion providers for medically-unnecessary hospital-level regulation. The sole intent of this targeted regulation of abortion providers (or TRAP) law was to force these health centers to shut down or stop provided abortion care, devastating abortion access in the Commonwealth.
Then-Senator Mark Herring fought against the bill as it worked its way through the General Assembly. He later introduced SB 1115 in 2013 to repeal this attack on abortion access. The anti-abortion majority in the General Assembly blocked his bill and other attempts to repeal the law.
Since then as Attorney General, however, Herring proved instrumental in our six-year battle to keep the TRAP law from cutting off abortion access at trusted, high-quality health care centers:
- During the initial implementation process, then-Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli had strong-armed the Board of Health into accepting the most stringent possible regulations on providers, including denying exceptions for existing facilities. In May 2015, Attorney General Herring issued an official advisory opinion to the Virginia Department of Health correcting Cuccinelli’s misleading and politically-motivated legal advice. He clarified that based on legal precedent, the Board of Health did have the authority to exempt existing providers from burdensome design and construction requirements and "grandfather" them in.
- The Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt further demonstrated the need to repeal medically-unnecessary and politically-motivated restrictions on providers, which the Board of Health voted to do with amendments in fall of 2016.
NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia Scorecard Rating and Endorsements
Mark Herring received a perfect 100% pro-choice rating in NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia’s annual scorecard throughout his time in the state Senate.
Mark Herring’s Commitment to Virginia Women and Families
Attorney General Mark Herring has spent his years in public service fighting to protect women’s rights and health care – he worked to defeat dangerous abortion bans, opposed legislation to restrict a woman’s access to abortion, voted against "personhood" bills and the infamous mandatory ultrasound bill, introduced measures to repeal medically-unnecessary TRAP regulations, and so much more. Just recently, he announced a massive effort to help survivors of sexual assault by eliminating a nearly three-decade backlog on untested rape kits.
As Attorney General, Mark Herring’s legal opinions have consistently supported economic and reproductive justice for Virginia’s women and families while striking down dangerous and incorrect legal advice from his anti-choice predecessors.
Throughout his career, Mark Herring has made it clear that his priority is to advance the safety and security of Virginia’s citizens – not manipulate the law for ideological wins. We know Attorney General Herring will continue to be a brick wall in the against any judicial attacks on a woman’s reproductive health and freedom. We will use the full force of the NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia grassroots network to reelect Mark Herring for Attorney General.
Help NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia support Mark Herring and other pro-choice candidates in 2017: Donate to our Political Action Committee to elect pro-choice leaders and build pro-choice political power.