Finally some good news: Virginia becomes first state to nix anti-abortion laws found unconstitutional

Amidst all the vile sexism and attacks on women which have poisoned the political dialogue lately, it’s worth remembering that over the summer, women were handed one of the most critical reproductive rights victories in recent history in the Supreme Court’s decision on Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt. SCOTUS ruled certain costly, medically unnecessary requirements imposed on abortion clinics unconstitutional for purposefully infringing on women’s access to the procedure. And just this week, the abortion rights movement won another victory in Virginia.

You see, while the Supreme Court ruling against these requirements targeting abortion clinics is great and all, these laws known as “TRAP” (targeted regulation of abortion providers) laws have become pretty pervasive and effectively shut down many clinics across the nation, some in states which already only had a few. Enforcing the court’s decision and doing away with these laws posed the next challenge, and on Monday, Virginia became the first state to officially implement the Whole Women’s Health decision.

After hours of deliberation, the Virginia State Board of Health voted to ban restrictions placed on abortion clinics by Senate Bill 924, implemented in 2013. The bill required abortion clinics to meet the same standards as full-service hospital facilities through expensive, unnecessary renovations, or shut down.

The bill forced the state’s busiest clinic, NOVA Women’s Healthcare, which also offered birth control to thousands of Virginia women, to shut down.

Aside from it being incredibly costly for clinics that already receive no government funding for abortions to reform their facilities to meet these standards, the vast majority of medical experts have deemed these regulations unnecessary. And at any rate, women seeking abortions are often pretty damn determined, and no matter how many restrictions conservative politicians throw their way, they’ll likely have the procedure one way or another.

After all, these restrictions placed on abortion clinics by TRAP laws aren’t put on outpatient clinics that pose substantially greater safety risks by performing colonoscopies, dental surgery, laser eye surgery, and other operations, Think Progress notes. For additional perspective, not only is the risk for complications for first-trimester abortion procedures less than 0.05 percent, but you’re also 40 times more likely to die from a colonoscopy than from an abortion. And yet you don’t see politicians regulating that shit.

The obvious goal here isn’t women’s safety, but to stigmatize, fear monger, and restrict women’s choice.

“Advocates have been saying for years that the restrictions in Virginia are designed only to close clinics and make abortion difficult, if not impossible to access,” Gail Deady, Secular Society Women’s Rights Legal Fellow at the ACLU of Virginia, said in a statement. “We are proud that today’s vote brings our abortion regulations in line with the rights protected by the Constitution.”

The decision by the state’s Board of Health will have immediate impact, but it’s worth noting that it remains to be seen whether or not Virginia’s legislature will strike the restrictions down too.