What is Choice?
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We trust Virginia women to know what is best for themselves and their families – not politicians. We believe that deciding whether and when to raise a family is a personal, private decision, and we fight to ensure that every Virginia woman can access safe, legal abortion should she choose.
Women who have abortions come from all races, religions, socioeconomic groups, and ages. One in three American women will have had an abortion by the time she reaches the age of 45. And performed legally, abortion is one of the most common and safest outpatient surgical procedures in America. 
Anti-choice extremists in Virginia and across the country are eroding 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, and even targeting the doctors that legally provide abortion care. Today, 92 percent of Virginia counties have no abortion provider.
This is the current situation for a woman in Virginia who has decided to have an abortion :
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.
Limited support from family and friends
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.
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 1 in 3 women has an abortion in her lifetime, the stigma and shame associated with abortion means that many women do not feel they can be open about their experience.
NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia protects and expands Virginia women’s access to safe, legal abortion by working to defeat state-level attacks on reproductive rights while driving bold, proactive policy 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.
(For more information about our mission and work, see our about us page.)