Yesterday, The Virginia State Board of Health voted 11-4 to reject targeted regulations of abortion providers. After a five year battle, this is a huge victory for abortion access in Virginia.
Reproaction co-director Erin Matson testified before the Board of Health, urging them to do the right thing. Read her testimony below:
My name is Erin Matson and I live in Arlington. I am co-founder of Reproaction, and led a national, research-driven Who Is Closing Abortion Clinics? campaign exposing the lie that unconstitutional abortion clinic shutdown restrictions promote women’s health and safety.
As the Supreme Court has made clear, Virginia is in a pickle. Since our sham restrictions were adopted, seven of our 21 abortion providers have closed. This is a disgrace, and appears to be in direct contradiction of the law of our land of the free. A woman in Virginia deserves better than discriminatory, deceit-based abortion clinic shutdown restrictions designed to prevent her from accessing the health care she needs.
Virginia should increase access to abortion. As I shared at a previous Board of Health meeting, I worked with a patient from Norfolk who had severe difficulty accessing the abortion she needed. Because of the maze of punitive restrictions targeting people in Virginia who have decided to have an abortion, especially poor people and women of color, her procedure was delayed for several weeks because she was unable to afford it and find someone to take care of her kids.
She grew frustrated with the process, and at one point she wondered aloud to volunteers raising money whether there was something she could do to force a miscarriage at home. Ultimately she had to take a train to Washington, D.C., to get her abortion. I still remember picking her up at the clinic and taking her to the hotel, and how serious her situation was.
I urge you to think of her now, and vote to amend these sham restrictions. They do not advance women’s health and safety, as has been claimed, but rather exist to block access to abortion, making serious situations harder.
It’s important to note that those who wish to hold onto the fantasy that Virginia can keep our unconstitutional abortion clinic shutdown restrictions just the way they are, are the exact same people who support crisis pregnancy centers which operate with absolutely zero medical oversight. This deceit and hypocrisy can and should end today. Abortion is safe. Our restrictions are unconstitutional. Please vote to protect abortion access.