Here’s how we’re going to fight for women’s healthcare

It’s National Women’s Health Week, but here in Virginia, we’re working hard year-round to make sure that women receive the quality, affordable healthcare they deserve — because what’s good for women in our commonwealth is good for our entire commonwealth.

We’ve made a lot of progress over the years, including fighting off anti-woman legislation like the transvaginal ultrasound bill, which would have required women to undergo an invasive, humiliating, medically unnecessary procedure. And we called out that bill for what it really was — a means to shame women.

Just a few months ago, we successfully passed legislation that would guarantee women with healthcare access to 12 months of prescription birth control, empowering them to control when — and if — to start a family because we know: Reproductive justice is economic justice.

We’ve also been successful in keeping health providers who offer abortions open — even after the dangerous TRAP regulations that Republicans implemented to try and close down these health clinics.

But we’re only getting started. Our commonwealth needs a governor who won’t just maintain the status quo, but who will champion Virginia women every single day.

That means increasing access to quality, affordable reproductive healthcare, including preventive care like routine mammograms, screenings, and prenatal care — all things the Republican healthcare plan puts in jeopardy. Being a woman is not a pre-existing condition.

Supporting women’s health also means ensuring access to long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs). Earlier this year Ralph proposed a $6 million pilot program to provide these kinds of contraception to women — regardless of their ability to pay. Colorado launched a similar program and saw teen birth rates drop by 40 percent, and teen abortions by 42 percent. Ralph wants to bring that same success to Virginia.

It means protecting the right to safe, legal abortion. Extremist Republicans are working hard to take us back to a time before Roe v. Wade, and they’re willing to do it at the cost of women’s healthcare altogether. We saw this when Republicans voted to allow states to defund Planned Parenthood and other health clinics that perform abortions, which President Trump signed into law. Recently, President Trump expanded the Global Gag Rule, which bars NGOs from providing family planning services at the risk of losing essential funding for programs to prevent and treat diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria. It’s clear: Far-right Republicans would rather see women suffer from preventable diseases than allow them to use their right to make their own healthcare decisions.

Virginians have been fighting for women’s health for years — and we’ve made a lot of progress. But we’ve got to keep fighting until the job is done. I’ve never wavered in advocacy for women’s health — and I never will. As governor, I’ll be a brick wall against Donald Trump and his backwards policies, and I will never stop fighting for women’s right to comprehensive healthcare. A woman’s healthcare decisions are best left between her and her doctor — but fighting for women’s health will take all of us.

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