The 2015 General Assembly Session will be a short session of 45 days beginning on Wednesday, January 14, 2015, and adjourning (if on schedule) on February 28, 2015. Over the coming weeks we’ll blog about the civil liberties and civil rights issues at stake during the 2015 session.

By Aisha Huertas Michel, Director, Patricia M. Arnold Women’s Rights Project
141118 2015 GA Pre-session Tweetchat memeSince Roe v. Wade in 1973, Virginia has passed 13 laws restricting a woman’s right to make reproductive health care decisions. We’ve been moving in the wrong direction, and that’s about to change. We’re working to change the conversation about abortion – to ensure that women feel supported and not judged if they choose abortion. Throughout the 2015 Legislative Session, we will continue working to secure a woman’s rights to make the best decision for her circumstance together with her doctor and without the interference of a politician. Laws and regulations governing women’s health must be based in science and medicine, not politics.
Here are our Reproductive Freedom priorities during the 2015 session:
Targeted Restrictions of Abortion Providers (TRAP)
Legislation likely will be introduced to codify the current medically unnecessary restrictions for abortion facilities or expand current Targeted Restrictions of Abortion Providers by requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges or other unnecessary connection to local hospitals. The ACLU of Virginia opposes any effort to regulate Virginia abortion providers out of existence.
Repeal of Abortion Funding for Low-Income Women
Legislation likely will be reintroduced that would repeal current Virginia law that allows for public funding of some abortion services for Medicaid eligible women in the Commonwealth. The ACLU of Virginia opposes this legislation because women should not be denied necessary healthcare based upon their ability to pay and health care decisions are best made by individuals and their medical providers.
Repeal of Mandatory Ultrasound
Legislation may be reintroduced that would repeal the law passed in 2012 requiring that a woman undergo an ultrasound 24 hours prior to an abortion. The ACLU supports this legislation because the mandatory ultrasound law is intended to shame and judge a woman into changing her mind by requiring doctors to provide the woman with the option to view the ultrasound image and hear the heartbeat. Requiring an ultrasound before abortion is about political interference, not informed consent. Information should not be provided with the intent or result of shaming, judging, or making a woman change her mind, and health care decisions are best made by a woman and her doctor, not politicians.
Access to Contraception
Legislation will be introduced that protects a woman's access to contraception. The ACLU supports this legislation because a woman should have safe, affordable access to the full range of contraceptive options and access to contraception is critical to an individual's autonomy, equality, and ability to participate in the social, economic, and political life of the nation.
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