47 years of safe, legal abortion. And we have so far yet to go to ensure that quality abortion care is accessible to all people regardless of where they live or the many barriers they may face. All of us at Whole Woman’s Health and Whole Woman’s Health Alliance are committed to making the reality of reproductive freedom come to life for all people, and we dig in to that work in our clinics, in the legislative halls, in the courtroom, in the media and around our dining room tables every day.
Today we are happy to spend the Roe anniversary here in Richmond, Virginia to support the announcement of a remarkable piece of legislation – the Reproductive Health Protection Act. This proactive bill moves the ball FORWARD in Virginia and continues the momentum we have seen here from the ballot box all the way to the doctors office. We are proud to be part of the coalition leading the way, and are thankful to Senators McClellan and Boysko for carrying this powerful bill.
Once passed, the RHPA will repeal the Targeted Regulation on Abortion Providers (TRAP laws) that have been on the books for years here in Virginia – blocking people’s access to abortion care, delaying their appointments, forcing procedures on them that have no medical benefit and making it harder and harder for clinics to stay open. The time is now for rolling these arcane laws back, and to opening up Virginia as a safe haven for people to count on for reproductive health, rights and justice.
The following is the statement Amy Hagstrom Miller, our President and CEO, shared in today’s press conference in Richmond.
Good morning! Thank you all for coming.
What a great day it is today for Reproductive Freedom in Virginia. It’s sunny and crisp outside this morning and everything is lined up for us to move the ball forward here in Virginia.
I am Amy Hagstrom Miller, President and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health and Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, and a resident of Virginia. Whole Woman’s Health operates 8 facilities in 5 states that provide quality, compassionate abortion care services; two of our facilities are here in Virginia – Whole Woman’s Health of Charlottesville and Whole Woman’s Health and Family Center in Alexandria. You may know Whole Woman’s Health from our 2016 Supreme Court victory where we successfully sued the State of Texas and overturned two TRAP laws, that, until we knocked them down, decimated the abortion care landscape across the state for years.
I am proud to be an abortion provider in the Commonwealth. Safe abortion care is integral to the health of our communities, and the Whole Woman’s Health mission is rooted in human rights and justice. People seeking abortion services deserve our respect, our compassion, and access to excellent medical care. They do not need delays, misinformation or regulations that do not improve their health outcomes.
Virginia passed a TRAP law in 2011, randomly requiring medical offices that provide five or more first trimester abortions per month to be classified and regulated as a type of “hospital.”
Before the TRAP law, first trimester abortion care was regulated just like any other procedure performed in a doctor’s office. Medical offices, including those that provide abortion care, were overseen by the Virginia Department of Health Professions (VDHP) which has broad regulatory powers over all licensed healthcare professionals. But the 2011 TRAP law forced the Virginia Board of Health—an entirely different agency from VDHP— to enforce additional regulations only for abortion facilities, on top of the VDHP standards. First trimester abortion care is the only medical procedure for which the Commonwealth creates and enforces regulations based on an arbitrary number and type of procedures performed per month.
It is time to lift the onerous and arbitrary scheme of double regulation of abortion in Virginia.
Virginia TRAP saddles abortion providers with requirements that do not apply to any other office-based practice providing low-risk outpatient procedures – or even riskier procedures – like cosmetic surgery, colonoscopy, and gynecological procedures like colposcopy and endometrial biopsy. Virginia TRAP imposes rigid and medically unnecessary requirements governing all areas of facility operations and requires clinics to grant unfettered access to inspectors for unannounced, unlimited, warrantless inspections. There is no medical reason to single out abortion providers for this special regulation. Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures in the United States.
As an abortion provider with 30 years experience, I can say without a doubt that these restrictions are not medically necessary, but rather serve only to stigmatize abortion and impede and reduce access to abortion care. TRAP is based on feelings and beliefs, not scientific evidence.
The Reproductive Health Protection Act would remedy these unconstitutional restrictions on abortion.
Whole Woman’s Health Alliance is a plaintiff in Falls Church Medical Center v. Oliver, a federal lawsuit challenging these unconstitutional laws. The record established in our trial demonstrates everything I’ve discussed—how these laws serve no medical benefit, but rather impose numerous logistical, financial, and emotional burdens on patients seeking abortion care in the Commonwealth. Restrictions delay access to care and have a disproportionate impact on low-income patients and patients of color.
Indeed, in other states, facilities managed by Whole Woman’s Health are regulated in the same manner as other medical providers and our safety records are identical – without TRAP laws in place. Our clinics provide safe, high-quality abortion care and do not need targeted regulations that single out abortion providers like those we endure in Virginia.
Thank you for supporting the Reproductive Health Protection Act.