Both NIRH and the NIRH Action Fund have worked steadily in Virginia for several years — Virginia has now passed proactive abortion laws two years in a row, rolling back a host of restrictions to create a much-needed access point in the Southeast.
Virginia had once been infamous for its attacks on abortion care, passing a raft of barriers to abortion access throughout the 2010s. The NIRH Action Fund worked in Virginia in 2017 and 2019, and in the 2019 elections, Virginia voters elected a pro-choice majority in the General Assembly for the first time in two decades. New lawmakers who campaigned on bold platforms of support for reproductive freedom quickly unraveled decades of politically motivated abortion restrictions. On the first day of session in January 2020, Virginia legislators introduced the Reproductive Health Protection Act (RHPA). This repealed three of the most harmful barriers: a 2010 law mandating unnecessary building and facility requirements that made it difficult or impossible for some providers to continue to offer care; a 2012 law that subjected patients to unnecessary ultrasounds and state-created, biased information; and an archaic restriction that prevented qualified, trained advance practice clinicians from providing abortion care. The Virginia House of Delegates and Senate swiftly passed the RHPA and the governor signed it into law on April 9, 2020. Following this momentum, in 2021, Virginia passed a law expanding insurance coverage or abortion care.
As we continue to strengthen the coalitions, train more legislators, and build in-state power, Virginia’s next priority is to ensure that everyone has access to the full spectrum of reproductive health care services, including abortion, regardless of what kind of insurance they have, immigration status, or gender identity.