Virginia is moving to undo its web of restrictions aimed at preventing women from obtaining abortions, and on Wednesday passed a bill in the State’s House that will remove a passel of longstanding requirements.
The omnibus bill, which passed 12-to-9 along party lines, would increase the number of providers who could perform abortions, as well as remove ultrasound requirements and mandatory waiting periods.
“Today’s vote is a victory for women’s health. We are on our way to reversing nearly 20 years’ worth of anti-choice policies that have made Virginia one of the most hostile places for abortion access,” House Majority Leader Charniele Herring, who introduced the bill, said in a statement. “No woman should be denied affordable and safe healthcare options.”
As the majority party for the first time in 26 years, Democrats are taking full advantage of their newfound power. In the last week alone, four gun control bills were advanced, and Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
Now, the state’s Democrats are setting their sights on expanding abortion rights, particularly in light of the threat that Roe v. Wade faces under the current Supreme Court. In addition to reducing obstacles to obtaining abortions, the legislation would also require every health insurance plan to cover all services, drugs, devices and procedures related to reproductive health.
“We are going to say goodbye to treating abortion providers differently from other health-care providers.” Sen. Jennifer B. Boysko told the Washington Post.
“The bottom line here is once a woman decides to have an abortion, it should be safe, it should be affordable, it should be free of punishment or judgment.”