As a women’s health nurse and a nurse researcher, I was thrilled when the Virginia Board of Health made the appropriate decision to amend medically unnecessary, politically motivated restrictions against abortion providers. A few months ago, a ruling by a judge had forced the Board of Health to revisit these regulations.

Abortions are health care. The health-care decision to have an abortion should be in the hands of the woman, in consultation with her health-care provider. Overwhelmingly, Americans agree, and in a 2014 poll, a majority of Virginians also agreed.

Onerous, medically unjustifiable restrictions do not make women safer. Instead, they increase the cost of abortions and decrease the number of abortion providers.

The nonpartisan National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine issued a report in 2018 that concluded that 95% of abortions are provided in clinics and office settings — and that they can be safely provided in those settings. Furthermore, they found that these rules, termed “targeted regulations against abortion providers,” can delay care by decreasing the number of abortion providers, but do not increase patient safety.

This is also an equity issue. Almost half of women seeking abortion care have income below the federal poverty line. As of 2014, 92% of Virginia counties did not have an abortion provider. Further reducing the number of providers would most affect low-income people, young people and those living in rural areas.

The Board of Health needs to amend these unnecessary TRAP regulations and protect abortion care. This is a question of justice, basic rights, and dignity for women in making their own health decisions.

Kathryn Laughon


References: pages 6, 10, 11, 12, 13, 77, 78, 118

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