Op-Ed: Why Virginia Needs A Constitutional Amendment Protecting Reproductive Freedom

AP Photo/Steve Helber

By Autumn Green

March 19, 2024

Virginia’s recent election season in 2023 drew in eyes from all over the country. Reproductive freedom was on the line and Virginia remained the last state in the south without a post-Dobbs abortion ban. It was up to the people to ensure that abortion remained accessible at such a crucial time. Numerous states across the country had already quickly jumped to enact legislation blocking access to abortion and successfully revoked a person’s right to make their own decisions about their body. Virginians knew: Our access to reproductive freedom was on the line.

Virginia voters loudly proclaimed their support for reproductive freedom by electing pro-reproductive rights majorities in the State Senate and House of Delegates. The results from the November 2023 elections set the stage for true progress to take place in the Commonwealth, starting with the process of amending the Virginia constitution to enshrine reproductive freedom into Virginia’s Constitution. Without state or federal protections for abortion, a constitutional amendment for reproductive freedom is absolutely crucial in fortifying abortion access now and for generations to come.

Anti-abortion legislators have made their opposition to reproductive rights and commitment to restricting access to it clear by introducing a host of horrible legislation that would ban abortion even at the moment of conception. Anti-abortion politician Delegate Tim Griffin introduced HB1364, an anti-science bill that would ban abortion outright and had implications for miscarriage management, in vitro fertilization, and even some common types of contraception. He also put forward a bill that would defund Planned Parenthood and all institutions that provide or refer for abortion. The bill would have removed funding for critical reproductive health care and programs, like free contraception for low-income Virginians and the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, as well as eliminate the state coverage of abortion care in cases of severe fatal diagnosis, rape, and incest for patients with low incomes.

No one deserves to live with the uncertainty and chaos that comes with regular attacks to essential health care. Virginians won’t stand for it.

A constitutional amendment for reproductive freedom would protect the people and ensure that politicians cannot take the Commonwealth backwards by restricting or banning essential reproductive health care in Virginia. Decisions surrounding pregnancy, abortion, miscarriage care, contraception and other reproductive health care are highly personal and private. A constitutional amendment for reproductive freedom would ensure that these decisions would be left to a patient and their provider; not politicians.

The process of enshrining reproductive freedom into Virginia’s Constitution is a slow, but steady process. In order to pass a constitutional amendment on the shortest possible timeline, the amendment must receive a majority vote in both the House of Delegates and State Senate in 2025, a pro-reproductive rights majority must be maintained in the House of Delegates in the 2025 elections, the constitutional amendment must pass again during the 2026 legislative session, and then win at the ballot box in November 2026. If the referendum achieves the majority vote, the ballot is added to the Virginia Constitution. Make no mistake, attempts to restrict reproductive rights, especially abortion and contraception, will continue unless we have a constitutional amendment in Virginia.

Achieving such a success would ensure that all Virginians, and people who come to Virginia from other states, can access the time-sensitive, essential reproductive health care when they need it most. This constitutional amendment sends a message to not only anti-abortion legislators in Virginia, but to our entire country. We will not go back. The tides are changing and Virginia is headed in the direction of leading the south in abortion access for all.

CATEGORIES: Uncategorized


Local News

Related Stories
Share This