** This post has been updated to include a statement from Amy Hagstrom Miller in regards to the Virginia Board of Health doing away with medically unnecessary regulations that targeted abortion providers. **
On Monday, October 24th we will be telling the Virginia Board of Health to #ScrapTrap! The Virginia Board of Health has the opportunity to scrap TRAP laws in the state thanks to our victory at the Supreme Court!
“Since 2010, Virginia politicians have proposed more than 75 restrictions on women’s access to abortion and reproductive health care. Those restrictions include mandatory ultrasounds, restrictions on birth control access, and a refusal to allow insurance policies to cover abortion procedures. These proposals are part of a long-term, coordinated campaign to end access to abortion in Virginia and have nothing to do with women’s health and safety.”
– Amy Hagstrom Miller in The Washington Post, September 8th, 2016.
Amy Hagstrom Miller’s statement to the Virginia Board of Health
Good morning. My name is Amy Hagstrom Miller, and I am the founder and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health and we provide high quality, compassionate abortion care in the United States. I was the lead plaintiff in the case challenging Texas’ House Bill 2, a politically-motivated law that could have closed all but nine abortion clinics in Texas.
In June, we won our case at the Supreme Court. The ruling was a strong reaffirmation of the constitutional right to access abortion, and an even stronger rebuke of the Texas politicians who passed HB2 under the pretext of protecting women’s health and safety.
Like Texas’ HB2, the regulations originally passed by the Board of Health were politically motivated and medically unjustified. These regulations would have required abortions to be performed in mini-hospitals. This would have closed good clinics across Virginia, jeopardizing women’s health and blocking access to safe, legal abortion care.
I know firsthand how devastating it is to close clinics and turn away women who need care. HB2 forced me to close two of my Texas facilities. Shuttering abortion clinics does not reduce the need for abortion; these restrictions do nothing to prevent unplanned pregnancies or to support women. These sham laws strip women of the dignity to make their own healthcare decisions.
Requirements related to hallway widths, the number of parking spaces, and janitors’ closets do not advance health and safety but rather shutter healthcare centers and end access to safe abortion. Abortion providers do not need to rebuild as mini-hospitals in order to provide quality abortion care—and the Supreme Court recently agreed with me.
Today, you can stop the sham by voting “yes” to the amendments before you.
A “yes” vote is consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.
A “yes” vote ends the sham building and construction requirements that threaten to close women’s health centers across Virginia.
A “yes” vote will allow Virginians to make decisions about their pregnancies without political interference. All Virginians deserve compassionate, dignified, respectful abortion care in their communities.
I urge the Virginia Board of Health to vote to protect women’s access to safe and legal abortion in the Commonwealth. Thank you.
Whole Woman’s Health Statement on the Virginia Board of Health Vote to Amend Dozens of Abortion Restrictions
Below is a Statement from Amy Hagstrom Miller, President and CEO, Whole Woman’s Health:
Today, witnesses in Virginia testified that our Supreme Court decision issued a new standard that all state laws need to consider. Witnesses called upon the Board of Health to vote “yes” to the amendments before them, which would undue onerous physical plant requirements such as those regulating hallway widths, janitor closets and covered walkways; which add no value to women’s health or safety and shutter good clinics. And the amendments were successfully passed in an 11-4 vote.
It was thrilling to watch Virginians passionately refer to our Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt Supreme Court case as the new standard, affirming that no government can put forward restrictions like these on a woman’s access to safe abortion care without carrying out those laws to advance women’s health and safety.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: abortion restrictions have nothing to do with protecting women and everything to do with closing down clinics and pushing abortion care out of reach. When politicians force clinics to close, they exponentially multiply the number of devastating albeit unnecessary hurdles that women must overcome when seeking reproductive health services.
As of today, seven states have used the Whole Woman’s Health decision to restore quality access to abortion care with dignity to the women and families in their communities.
But, we can’t let this victory in Virginia distract us from the other major obstacle to access to safe abortions. TRAP restrictions still shut down clinics and prevent many from reopening. Over the past few years, states like Texas, Mississippi, Ohio, Kansas, Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana and others have seen a dramatic rise in this interference. In fact, the 334 abortion restrictions enacted by states across the country from 2011 to July 2016 account for 30% of all restrictions since Roe v. Wade.
I celebrate this victory as I celebrated the Whole Woman’s Health victory in June, as one which could transform the field of abortion care in the U.S.