On Monday, the sixty day public comment period began for a set of outrageous TRAP laws in the state of Virginia.
TRAP laws, or Target Regulations of Abortion Providers, require abortion clinics to meet often unrealistic building code standards that are then used to force clinics to close. These standards can be everything from the width of hallways to a specified size for janitorial closets, which require complete structural changes and a great deal of money.
In Virginia, the battle has been raging over a set of TRAP laws that would require any clinic that performs more than five abortions in a year to meet the same building standards as new hospitals. After repeated battles with the Virginia Board of Health to reject the regulations, a compromise had been met where existing clinics could be “grandfathered” in to the regulations similar to what previously existing hospitals would for new standards. But in September 2012, the Board of Health reversed their decision and instead required that existing clinics be in compliance with the regulations within a mere two years or close their doors.
Supporters of the TRAP laws say that they are trying to help women. In reality TRAP laws do no such thing; they are simply part of an ideological agenda to eliminate abortion access any way possible. And it is the women of Virginia who will truly suffer the consequences.
Not only will these laws severely limit abortion access, it also hacks away at basic reproductive health care for millions of women. Many of the clinics affected by these laws also provide birth control, cancer screenings, and routine reproductive health exams like PAP smears. If they are forced to close their doors because of a law aimed at restricting abortion access, women (disproportionately low-income women) will also lose their primary provider of gynecological care
The public comment period is the last chance to make pro-choice, pro-woman voices heard by the Virginia Board of Health before they give the TRAP law final approval. Members of the public can submit comments by mail, fax, email, or through an online town hall. You can take action immediately by emailing the Virginia Board of Health from our Take Action page.
Yelling woman mouth closeup from Shutterstock
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