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Health groups sue Virginia over decades-old abortion restrictions

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Health groups sue Virginia over decades-old abortion restrictions

A group of women’s health-care providers on Wednesday sued the state of Virginia, seeking to overturn numerous abortion restrictions, some of which have been on the books for decades.

The providers, represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, argue numerous Virginia laws restricting abortion violate a standard set by the Supreme Court in 2016. 

“The laws we are challenging today are shutting down clinics, delaying care, increasing costs, and piling one burden on top of another in an attempt to regulate the fundamental protections of Roe v. Wade out of existence,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. 

The groups are challenging laws that say only doctors can perform abortions and that second-trimester abortions be performed in a hospital. 

The groups are also challenging laws that require women get ultrasounds before abortions and wait 24 hours before receiving abortions as well as the requirement abortion providers undergo “stringent licensure requirements.” 

The lawsuit argues the licensure requirements are unconstitutional based on the Supreme Court’s 2016 ruling in Whole Woman’s Health V. Hellerstedt. 

The court ruled in that case that Texas couldn’t place restrictions on abortion that create an undue burden for women. 

But the plaintiffs argue that Virginia’s laws do just that.

Between 2009 and 2016, the number of medical facilities in Virginia providing abortions declined by than half making it “difficult and expensive” for women to get abortions, the groups argue. 

“Here in Virginia, we have been up against a regime of restrictions that make it harder for patients to access safe and legal abortion,” said Shelley Abrams, executive director of A Capital Women’s Health Clinic, one of the clinics represented in the lawsuit. 

The other clinics are Falls Church Healthcare Center, Whole Woman’s Health of Charlottesville and the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood. 

The Whole Woman’s Health Alliance filed a similar suit in Texas last week, challenging over a dozen abortion restrictions. 

“The Whole Woman’s Health Supreme Court victory from 2016 was game-changing — affirming that abortion laws must be based on medical evidence,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, president of Whole Woman’s Health Alliance. 

“We’re using this new standard to affirmatively strike at the core of the Commonwealth’s burdensome restrictions, some dating back decades, that are based on ideology, not health or science.”

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