Virginia Lowers Women’s Standard of Care with New Abortion Bill

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Just days after over 200,000 people rallied for life at our nation’s capital, Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax of Virginia cast a tie-breaking vote. His vote passed SB 733, an abortion bill that lowers women’s standard of health care in the name of “women’s rights.”

But there is nothing right about this bill for women.

The bill amends a law that previously ensured that only physicians, licensed by the Board of Medicine, perform abortions. Under SB 733, non-physicians—namely, nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants—would also be permitted to perform abortions.

While nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants play an important role in the health care profession, allowing them to perform invasive medical procedures that they are not trained and qualified to perform doesn’t make sense. The bill labels nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants “licensed medical professionals” authorized to perform abortions. But there are important differences in the licensing requirements of doctors as compared to nurse practitioners.

In fact, Virginia law clarifies that although nurse practitioners work with doctors, that collaboration shouldn’t translate to performing invasive medical procedures in the place of the doctor. Doctors receive specific licensing and training that helps ensure patient safety. But that standard of care decreases significantly when we allow other medical professionals to attempt to perform these procedures.

The bill also stops the government from classifying facilities that perform five or more first-trimester abortions per month as hospitals. This means that these abortion facilities will no longer have to comply with safety regulations for hospitals, even though they are performing invasive medical procedures on women—procedures known to have serious complications.

This compromises women’s well-being and puts women at unnecessary risk. Informed consent is severely diminished under this new version of the law. Another disturbing effect of Virginia’s abortion bill is that women seeking an abortion won’t receive the information they need to make an informed medical decision.

Here are just a few examples.

First, women will no longer be informed that they can withdraw their consent at any point prior to an abortion. Second, the bill repeals a section of the law that requires abortion providers to give women a full, reasonable, and comprehensible medical explanation of the nature, benefits, and risks of and alternatives to abortion.

Also, the medical facility performing the abortion will no longer be required to offer the woman the opportunity to view ultrasound imaging of her child. But the ultrasound is critical for the pregnant mother to know the developmental stage of her unborn child and understand the humanity of her child, in order to make an informed decision. That’s not all. The mother will no longer be offered the opportunity to speak with the physician performing the abortion or any of his assistants, either.

Finally, abortion providers are no longer required to inform women of places available to assist them through pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting. Previously, abortion providers in Virginia were required to offer the mother information regarding adoption, counseling services, paternity establishment and child support enforcement, and other helpful resources.

This information benefits the mother and helps her understand that there are resources available if she wants to keep her child. But after this law takes effect, abortion facilities will no longer give women this information to help them make the best, informed choice. Virginia’s bill intentionally leaves women in the dark. I can’t think of a single other medical procedure where providers withhold pertinent information from patients and where patients are not offered the opportunity to speak to their doctor before undergoing a medical procedure. Can you?

This bill is a step backward for women’s rights, not a step forward.
We’ve seen how the abortion industry will claim to advance women’s rights by supporting measures like this one, which actually put women at risk.

In June Medical Services v. Gee, which will be argued at the Supreme Court next month, abortionists are claiming to speak for women by challenging a Louisiana law that protects the health and safety of women. ADF filed an amicus brief on behalf of dozens of former, current, and incoming Louisiana state legislators, arguing that abortionists have an obvious financial conflict of interest and cannot fairly represent women’s rights.

In another case, American Medical Association v. Stenehjem, the American Medical Association is challenging a North Dakota law that helps give women the information they need to make an informed decision. ADF has intervened to uphold the importance of informed consent. And now abortion activists in Virginia are undermining women’s healthcare too. Women deserve a higher standard of care than this Virginia bill offers. We cannot let legislators hijack women’s rights and compromise our safety to appease the abortion lobby. This legislation is not pro-woman; it is pro-abortion.

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Teresa Haney is a Legal Secretary for the Center for Life at Alliance Defending Freedom. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Politics from the University of Dallas in 2019, with concentrations in Ethics and Spanish. Teresa’s interests include ethics and public policy with a focus on marriage and the family. Before joining ADF, Teresa interned at the U.S. Embassy to the Vatican, Human Coalition, and the Bush Institute. While Teresa will always be a Texan at heart, she currently lives in Scottsdale, AZ.

Originally published and featured on Alliance Defending Freedom.

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