Roe v. Wade established a constitutional right to freedom of reproductive choice and its exercise must remain legal, safe and rare. Prevention of unintended pregnancy should be a first priority, but the agonizing choice of whether to carry a pregnancy to term should be a private decision made by a woman in consultation with her family, her physician, and her religious and moral beliefs. I oppose efforts to erode the protections established by the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade. As we do this, we can and should take other actions to reduce unintended pregnancies. Forty-nine percent of pregnancies are unintended; almost one-half of these are terminated by abortion.
Research indicates that 11 percent of American women who do not use contraceptives make up half of unintended pregnancies. Every year, an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 abortions occur among women who have been sexually assaulted. Specifically, I support legislation that:
- Requires health insurance plans which provide coverage for prescription medication to also cover prescription contraceptives. Something is amiss when more insurance companies cover Viagra than birth control, when these simple medications can prevent unintended pregnancies;
- Ensures access for women to emergency contraception;
- Increases access to quality prenatal services to improve women’s health, lessen complications of pregnancy and improve the prospects for successful births;
- Increases incentives for adoption to give more options for women and families seeking alternatives to abortion; and
- Requires schools to provide comprehensive and medically accurate information about how to prevent pregnancies from sexual assault, and which encourages youngsters to protect themselves from pregnancy and STDs in wide variety of ways, from abstinence to contraception.
I opposed efforts to limit access to abortion, like the Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers bill that went into effect July 1, 2011, and the draconian ultrasound bill passed in 2012. I also opposed legislation to exclude abortion coverage from private health insurance plans that participate in the state Health Insurance Exchange to be developed under the Federal Affordable Care Act.
Adoption and Foster Care
During my time in the General Assembly, I have helped pass major revisions to the adoption statutes to provide children greater chances to join loving families. In addition, I have introduced legislation to further involve parents in family life education and have supported legislation (which did not pass) to ensure that birth control cannot be construed as an abortion. My past legislative initiatives can be viewed on Virginia’s Legislative Information System website.