NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia

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Abortion

We trust Virginia women to know what is best for themselves and their families when it comes to pregnancy – not politicians. Deciding whether and when to become a parent or have another child is a personal decision that should be left to each woman with her family and her health care provider – not to politicians who don't know her or her life.

When a woman has decided that having an abortion is the right decision for her and her family, we believe she should be able to access quality, affordable abortion care in her community with support and without shaming, stigma, or government-imposed barriers. 

That's why we fight to ensure that every Virginian can access safe, legal abortion care if she chooses. We also work to make sure that Virginians have access to contraception, accurate information, and the full range of reproductive health services they need to take charge of their and their families' health.

Some facts you may not know, via the Guttmacher Institute: [1]

  • Women who have abortions come from all races, religions, socioeconomic levels, and life situations. Nearly one in three American women will have had an abortion by the time she reaches the age of 45.
  • 59% of women having an abortion already have at least one child.
  • A majority of abortion patients are in their 20s.
  • 49% percent of abortion patients in 2014 had incomes below the federal poverty level and a further 26% had incomes between 100%-199% of the federal poverty level.
  • Performed legally by a trained provider, abortion is one of the safest common outpatient medical procedures in the United States. Less than 0.05% of first-trimester abortions in the U.S. result in major complications that might need hospital care.
  • A first-trimester abortion can cost as much as $480 or more. Because of restrictions on insurance coverage and other obstacles, 53% of abortion patients paid out of pocket for their procedure in 2014.

 The Problem:

Anti-choice extremists in Virginia and across the country have successfully eroded women’s access to safe, legal abortion. Unable to outlaw abortion outright, these anti-choice politicians will stop at nothing to make accessing abortion as difficult, complicated and expensive as possible. They come at choice from all angles – shaming women who seek abortion care, closing comprehensive reproductive health centers, banning health insurance coverage, and even targeting the doctors that legally provide abortion care. Today, over 92% of Virginia counties have no abortion provider.

 This is the current situation for a woman in Virginia who has decided to have an abortion [2]:

Biased counseling

The Virginia Department of Health refers women to non-medical facilities ("crisis pregnancy centers”) that are anti-abortion non-profits designed to dissuade women out of accessing abortion. These non-profits often pose as abortion providers, but really use lies, emotional manipulation, and medically-inaccurate information to keep women from accessing safe, legal abortion.

 

Shame and stigma

Because abortion is so stigmatized, Virginia women who decide to access abortion may feel ashamed, alienated, or embarrassed. Support often depends on whether a woman feels her close friends and family will be there for her, and whether she can even talk about it. Women under 18 who need an abortion, are required to obtain the consent of one parent or legal guardian. But for some, this isn't an option. For those minors who come from an abusive home, fear a violent reaction, or may just not be able to contact their parent, they can apply for a judicial bypass. Unfortunately, approval of the bypass is contingent on whether the judge determines the abortion is in the minor's best interest.

Bans on insurance coverage

In Virginia, it is illegal for private health insurance plans offered through the Virginia health insurance exchange (www.healthcare.gov) to cover abortion. It is also illegal for Medicaid to cover abortion, even when a woman’s pregnancy is causing severe health risks.

 

Few women’s health centers that provide abortion

Only 11 of 133 counties and cities in Virginia have a local abortion provider. In 2011, Virginia passed "Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers”, burdensome restrictions that are designed to close women’s health centers and make abortion even more difficult to access. These restrictions require health centers that provide abortions to meet unnecessary and arbitrary construction guidelines not even required of new hospitals! Since the restrictions were passed in 2011, four abortion providers have closed.

Forced ultrasounds and mandatory delays

Virginia law requires a 24-hour waiting period before abortion, meaning a woman must make a minimum of two to three trips to the health center before she can even access the procedure. Virginia law also requires women to undergo a state-mandated ultrasound 24 hours before accessing abortion, regardless of whether or not a doctor agrees it is necessary. These forced medical procedures and mandatory delays are designed to shame women seeking abortion, and have a disproportionate impact on low-income and rural women, particularly given the extra transportation, hotel, childcare, and work-absence costs required of multiple trips.

Government-mandated information

Virginia law mandates a healthcare provider to give a woman government-written materials, including realistic pictures or drawings of what the fetus looks like at two-week intervals.

 

Unknown support after abortion

While nearly 1 in 3 women has an abortion in her reproductive lifetime, the stigma and shame associated with abortion means that many women do not feel they can be open about their experience. This perpetuates silence and widespread misinformation around women who have abortions and their experiences.

Our Solution:

NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia is a political and policy organization working to protects and advance Virginia women’s access to safe, legal abortion. We advocate to defeat state-level attacks on reproductive rights and  proactively work to decrease abortion stigma, support women seeking abortion, and expand access to critical reproductive health care. We will continue to educate and advocate for pro-choice policies that empower women to make their own health care decisions without government interference.

With the support of our thousands of members, volunteers, and grassroots activists, we at NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia educate, advocate, organize, and elect to change the political conversation around reproductive rights and build political and policy power for the majority of Virginians who support women's access to reproductive health care.
 
(For more information about our mission and work, see our about us page.)

[1]"Induced Abortion in the United States.” Guttmacher Institute, updated September 2016
     
    Additional Information:
    Crisis pregnancy centers (CPC) are anti-choice “fake clinics” that use lies, manipulation, and deception to keep women from considering their full range of reproductive health options, including abortion.
     
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