Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed a bill on Friday repealing multiple restrictions related to abortion access.
The Reproductive Health Protection Act will allow nurse practitioners who are jointly licensed by the Board of Medicine and Board of Nursing to perform first trimester abortions, thereby expanding the number of persons who can perform such abortions. The bill also ends the requirement of a mandatory ultrasound 24 hours prior to receiving an abortion.
Additionally, the Act removes a regulation that had required facilities performing five or more first trimester abortions in a month to be classified as a “hospital.” This was an example of a TRAP law (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) designed to increase the licensing requirements of abortion clinics and to force these clinics to close in the face of prohibitively expensive and unnecessary health and safety regulations.
In a statement Governor Northam said, “No more will legislators in Richmond—most of whom are men—be telling women what they should and should not be doing with their bodies.” The new legislation will go into effect July 1. The rollback of abortion restrictions comes at a time when other states such as Texas and Alabama are issuing temporary bans of abortions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.