RICHMOND, Va. — The battle over abortion laws loom large in Virginia. A two-week-long trial challenging four of the state’s regulations wrapped up Thursday at the U.S. District Court.
A group of women’s health clinics is challenging the state because physicians say these regulations make it difficult for women to access abortion care. On the other hand, attorneys representing the state say these laws make clinics safer now.
The laws currently on the books brought up in the case include hospital-like building codes for abortion clinics and that only doctors can provide the procedure. There is also a mandatory 24-hour waiting period before getting an abortion; unless the patient lives 100 miles or more away from the facility.
Attorneys representing the clinics in this trial argue that some of these laws were created 40 years ago, they are not updated or are not medically necessary anymore.
“These four laws have absolutely no increased benefit for patient safety. All they do is delay access to care,” Alexsis Rodgers, of the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood said.
The Virginia League of Planned Parenthood is one of the clinics in the case. Rodgers says patients might have to wait longer than a week to come back to the facility for abortion care because of scheduling, for the patients and physicians.
Attorneys representing the state said it benefits the woman to have a 24-hour waiting period to make an educated decision about the procedure, and to review state material required to be given to them under the same law.
Olivia Gans Turner said she wishes she had more time to make the decision before going through with the procedure back in the ’80s. Now, she’s the president of the Virginia Society for Human Life and has spoken to women nationwide who also wish they thought more about it.
“In my own experience I was told I was foolish, childish and immature to not realize how smart an abortion would be in my circumstances as a college student,” she explained.
Now she says lawmakers and the courts should focus on the safety and health of women, not the providers.
“We tend to favor abortion facilities, abortionists and all of those in the abortion industry before we look at the dynamics for women,” she added.
The federal judge says the question moving forward is at what level of risk or complications in an abortion procedure: can lawmakers get involved and regulation them? The decision weighs the burdens these laws place on patients as well as the benefits they have to patient safety.
It could be anywhere from a few weeks to months before the judge releases his decision on the case.
This trial comes as a number of states have passed stricter regulations on abortion care, such as Alabama and Missouri.