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A bill protecting birth control access is headed to Virginia's governor. Here's why Republicans said they opposed it

Katie King, The Virginian-Pilot on

Published in News & Features

RICHMOND — A bill that would protect the right to access birth control is poised to head to Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s desk — despite pushback from Republican legislators.

Health care providers in Virginia currently can prescribe birth control, and some methods, such as condoms and the emergency contraceptive pill, are available over the counter. But bill sponsor Del. Cia Price said she introduced the measure due to growing concerns that restrictions could be on the horizon following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

The bill states individuals have the “right to obtain contraceptives and to engage in contraception” and that health care providers “shall have the right to provide contraceptives and contraception-related information.” It creates a right to file a lawsuit over violations.

The bill defines contraceptives as any drug or device intended for use in the “prevention of pregnancy” that is legally marketed under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. It includes barrier methods — such as condoms and intrauterine devices — and hormonal medications, such as birth control pills, injections, emergency contraception, and transdermal patches.

A few Republicans joined the Democrat-held legislature in passing the bill through the House by a 55-44 vote. But in the Senate, it passed by a party-line vote of 21-19.

“This is not an abortion bill,” Price, a Newport News Democrat, said in an interview. “To vote against the right to access condoms and birth control, that should really perk up some eyes and ears. What is the direction of our nation? Where are we headed?”

 

Republican opposition

Almost all Republican legislators from Hampton Roads voted against the bill, including Sens. Danny Diggs of Yorktown, Emily Jordan of Smithfield, Bill DeSteph of Virginia Beach and Christie New Craig of Chesapeake; and Dels. A.C. Cordoza of Hampton, Baxter Ennis and Jay Leftwich of Chesapeake, and Anne Ferrell Tata and Barry Knight, both of Virginia Beach.

Del. Robert Bloxom of Mappsville was one of only a handful of Republicans to support the bill.

When asked about his vote in the halls of the capitol this week, Diggs said he was told the legislation would protect medications that cause late-term abortions. He then acknowledged he might have misunderstood the bill.

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