Virginia reactions to Supreme Court Texas abortion ruling
According to the Guttmacher Institute, Virginia is one of five states with laws restricting abortion access that are substantially similar to those that were struck down by the Supreme Court today.
“Today the Supreme Court sent a clear message that all women have the right to make their own reproductive health decisions, no matter where they live. This is a victory for women’s health in Texas, in Virginia, and across the country,” said U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, who in January signed an amicus brief in the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case, urging the Supreme Court to reject Texas’ effort to undermine a woman’s constitutionally protected right to make her own health care choices.
Sen. Tim Kaine also signed on to that amicus brief.
“I applaud the Supreme Court for seeing the Texas law for what it is – an attempt to effectively ban abortion and undermine a woman’s right to make her own health care choices,” Kaine said. “This ruling is a major win for women and families across the country, as well as the fight to expand reproductive freedom for all.
“The Texas law is quite similar to arbitrary and unnecessary rules that were imposed on Virginia women after I left office as Governor. I’m proud that we were able to successfully fight off such ‘TRAP’ regulations during my time in state office. I have always believed these sort of rules are an unwarranted effort to deprive women of their constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy,” Kaine said.
Attorney General Mark Herring issued an official opinion to the Virginia Health Commissioner in May 2015 that corrected erroneous legal advice provided by his predecessor and clarified that the Board of Health did not and does not have the authority to impose expensive, unnecessary, burdensome design and construction standards on preexisting healthcare facilities that perform abortions.
The Board has subsequently proposed and drafted changes to its regulations governing these facilities.
Herring commented on today’s Supreme Court decision, saying it “should help put a stop to the recent wave of state-level, medically unnecessary TRAP laws designed to scare, shame, or bar women from making their own healthcare decisions.”
“The Court was under no illusions about the true intention of these laws, and Virginians should not be either. I joined my colleagues in opposing Texas’ restrictions because I believe that a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions must exist in practice, not just in theory,” Herring said.
Conservatives, not surprisingly, had decidedly different responses to the ruling. Sixth District Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte said in a statement that “every human life is sacred and precious, and should be protected from the horrors of abortion. Today, the Supreme Court has abandoned those who have no voice – the unborn.”
“It is truly appalling that the Court has refused to take action against such a horrible, barbaric practice,” Goodlatte said. “The State of Texas passed a law that would protect the interests of women, as well as the unborn, from the horrific Gosnell-like conditions within abortion clinics that have been well documented throughout the abortion industry. Abortion practitioners have operated outside the bounds of the law for far too long, and Texas attempted to pass legitimate, common sense protections for the mother and her unborn child. The Court ignored these concerns and struck down these life-saving efforts.
“While the Court has failed to protect the health and safety of a mother and her unborn child, the House Judiciary Committee will continue its fight against the atrocities of abortion by advancing federal legislation that is in the best interests of women’s health and the health of unborn children.”
Fifth District GOP congressional nominee Tom Garrett offered a similarly strong response.
“Regrettably, the Supreme Court opted not to defend the sanctity of life in today’s decision while undermining state sovereignty in the process,” said Garrett, who is running for the seat currently held by retiring incumbent Congressman Robert Hurt. “We are seeing an all out attack on the unborn by the left and we cannot stand idly by without providing a voice to those among us who are the most defenseless. Finally, the Court ignored the testimony of numerous medical professionals who recognize the fact that abortion is in fact a surgical procedure and that real risks to the lives of expectant mothers were addressed by these Texas laws. I laud Texas and all others who continue to stand fast against the immoral and unconstitutional pro-choice agenda.”