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Go deeper: Why abortion rights groups are suing Virginia

Pro-life activists hold up signs in front of a pro-choice activist.
March for Life 2018. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Women's health care providers are suing the state of Virginia, The Hill reports, arguing that a number of state laws violate a 2016 Supreme Court decision on abortion.

The details: The group is backed by organizations like the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia. State lawmakers argue that the state's provisions are in women's best interest, but the providers say the laws put up unnecessary hurdles for women to get abortions.

2016 Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt

The Supreme Court found that two provisions in a Texas law regarding access to abortion "constituted an undue burden, and [were] therefore unconstitutional," NPR reported.

  • The first provision, which requires that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles. "[B]ecause the complication rate from abortions is so minuscule, most abortion providers cannot meet the minimum number of admittances that hospitals require before granting privileges," NPR's Nina Totenber writes.
  • The second, which requires clinics providing abortions have surgical facilities. Toenber reported that the clinics had to have "elaborate statutory hospital-grade standards ... that do not apply to all other outpatient facilities where other surgical procedures like liposuction and colonoscopies take place."

What's happening in Virginia

The groups suing against Virginia's laws argue that they make abortions harder to obtain, and are therefore unconstitutional.

  • The restrictions require that only physicians can perform abortions, that clinics providing abortions meet "hospital-style building standards," and that second-trimester abortions happen in hospitals, the Washington Post's Laura Vozzella reports.
  • They also target a 2012 law which requires women to have an ultrasound and wait 24 hours before having an abortion, per Vozzella.

What they're saying:

  • The president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Nancy Northup, told The Hill that they're fighting laws that 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."
  • Virginia House Republicans argue that these provisions are "medically necessary," and said if state Attorney General Mark Herring chooses to "neglect his duty" to defend them, "the Speaker will consider using his authority to hire counsel to defend the law on behalf of the House of Delegates."

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