Photo © Fibonacci Blue

Planned Parenthood is launching a regional political advocacy group to protect abortion rights in Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C.

The announcement comes as states such as Georgia, Alabama and Missouri have enacted a wave of oppressive abortion bans.

Karen Nelson, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Maryland and the co-CEO of the new regional group, called the recent abortion bans “a coordinated, aggressive and horrifying agenda to ban abortion and overturn Roe v. Wade.”

According to Planned Parenthood, the political 501(c)(4) group will advocate politically to protect access to reproductive health care services.

While abortion remains legal in Virginia and 72% of voters believe it should stay that way, access to reproductive health care has been under attack.

Since 2012, the state’s TRAP laws have restricted abortion access and reduced the number of medical facilities that provide abortion care in Virginia by more than half, from over 40 to around 20.

As a result, 92% of Virginia cities or counties now have zero abortion providers, 78% of Virginia women live in counties without an abortion clinic, and all remaining facilities are clustered in five urban areas.

Some of these laws were the subject of a recently concluded trial in a lawsuit brought by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the ACLU of Virginia and the law firm O’Melveny and Myers.

The Judge has yet to issue a ruling in the case, but should he rule against the plaintiffs, it would be another obstacle for legal abortion access in Virginia.

Beyond the judiciary, abortion access in Virginia could also be on the line in this year’s General Assembly elections. Tuesday’s primaries saw a number of extreme anti-choice Republicans win their races, and should they maintain control of the state legislature, they could oppose Democratic measures to protect the right to abortion.

With the launch of their new political advocacy group, it’s likely Planned Parenthood will be a player in this year’s elections as they fight to protect womens’ reproductive rights.

Photo © Fibonacci Blue