On Friday, Governor Ralph Northam signed bills into law that roll back state abortion restrictions, specifically the state’s TRAP (Targeted Restrictions on Abortion Providers) laws. The removal of abortion restrictions comes at a time when reproductive rights are being restricted under the current administration and during the COVID-19 crisis.
Northam’s spokeswoman Alena Yarmosky stated that the Reproductive Health Protection Act, sponsored by Del. Charniele Herring in the state House and Sen. Jennifer McClellan in the state Senate, will go into effect on July 1. Overall, the bills remove restrictions that have long been in place to limit easy access to abortion. The legislation removes restrictions that require healthcare seekers to receive an ultrasound at least 24 hours prior to receiving an abortion and to get counseling on alternative options. The measures remove the requirement that only physicians can provide abortions during the first trimester of pregnancy. The bills also eliminate the requirement that facilities that provide more than five abortions per year be designated as hospitals.
State Senator Jennifer McClellan stated, “Today, we have finally put an end to these medically unnecessary barriers to women’s reproductive health care. Politicians should not interfere in women’s personal medical decisions, period.” The passing of bills expands abortion provider pools significantly. Northam made his stance clear, stating, “No more will legislators in Richmond — most of whom are men — be telling women what they should and should not be doing with their bodies… [the bills] will make women and families safer, and I’m proud to sign it into law.”
On Friday, the governor also signed five gun control measures into law. Overall these measures include greater background checks and a new “red flag” law which permits stricter enforcement for those classified a danger to themselves or other.
Sources: CNN 4/10/20; The Hill 4/11/20