Wednesday at the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), about 200 students, faculty, community members, politicians and activists gathered for an electrifying speak out against the Virginia TRAP laws.
The Speak Out Against Virginia’s TRAP Laws blog describes the TRAP laws as “a bill that classifies women’s health centers in the state as a category of hospitals, making them subject to new regulations created by the Department of Health,” which effects 100% of clinics that provide abortions and could ultimately force most of them to shut down. In Virginia, many college-aged women are uninsured and rely on these low-cost clinics.
Organized by the Virginia Coalition for Women’s Health, the speak out brought attention to the threat of limited to no abortion access throughout Virginia. The coalition includes NARAL, ACLU, Planned Parenthood, FMF, VCU Feminists, and Feminists United on Campus (FUC) from the University of Mary Washington.
Eleven fired up speakers gave their soapbox testimonials in front of a crowd filled with passionate young people. A group of about 25 anti-choice protesters from the group VCU Students for Life were determined to spoil the energy, but were both out-chanted and less visible than the fired up pro-choice crowd.
State Delegate Charniele Herring, representing the 46th District in Virginia, called out Governor McDonnell and told the crowd, “You never proposed legislation like this when you were attorney general!” When she said, “We have had enough!” The crowd proceeded to chant, “We’ have had enough! We have had enough! We have had enough!”
Vicki Yeroiane, President of the VCU Young Democrats spoke as a woman who grew up in small town Virginia. With abstinence-only being the norm in her town’s public schools and knowing 15 people who had unintended pregnancies in her high school, she is outraged that the new regulations could force a lot of the family planning clinics to close.
Natasha Yingling, a member of VCU feminists and a client at one of the clinics, told her story of how she had three lumps in her breasts and that because she was uninsured, the women’s health clinics were her only option to obtain cancer screenings and treatment.
When all of the speakers finished, everyone was geared up to take their stories, outrage, and disgust over the proposed regulations to the Department of Health meeting the next day in Richmond. Although the Board passed these regulations yesterday, the young constituents of Virginia let Governor McDonnell and the Department of Health hear their voices and demanded that they stop trying to take away their health care, their right to privacy, and their right to choose.
To protect women’s health in Virginia, sign the Coalition for Women’s Health petition.