HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia League of Planned Parenthood is speaking up a day after the House of Delegates voted to stop funding the organization.
On Tuesday, House delegates voted 60-33 in favor of House Bill 2264. Nine delegates from Hampton Roads voted for the bill, eight voted against the bill and one did not vote.
The bill, which has now gone to the Senate, would prevent the Commonwealth from making contracts or providing funds to entities that provide non-federal qualifying abortions which are rape, incest or life-threatening conditions for childbearing mothers.
Planned Parenthood has two clinics in Hampton Roads — one in Hampton and another in Virginia Beach.
“In the past year, about 22,000 Virginians came to our clinics collectively, but 10,000 of those 22,000 specifically came to the Hampton or Virginia Beach clinic,” said Virginia League for Planned Parenthood Community Organizer Marklyn Louis.
Louis says the clinics help all women, but many minorities, young women, the uninsured and the LGBT community rely on Planned Parenthood.
“Preventive healthcare is 90 percent of what we do, so lifesaving cancer screenings… Well women’s exams, testing for STIs, treatment, birth control,” Louis said.
Delegate Daun Sessoms Hester said in a statement that Planned Parenthood does more than just abortions:
HB2264 takes funding away from Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides many women’s health services – not just abortions, and remember, abortion services are funded with private dollars, not tax dollars. All women deserve access to quality health care, all across the state, but not all women can afford the cost of care and not all areas of our state have charitable clinics to provide access. Planned Parenthood provides that access in many places.”
10 On Your Side spoke with President and CEO of the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood Paulette McElwain over the phone. She says that defunding the organization in Virginia can have negative effects like Texas, Indiana, and Tennessee experienced.
“This bill would cut off STD testing for about 2,000 women in Virginia and these women have no other access to testing, free STD testing. It would be a shame for women to lose access to that care.”
McElwain says she was not shocked to hear that the House of Delegates passed the bill, because a similar bill passed the House and the Senate before Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed it.
Both McElwain and Louis say they’ve seen an increase in support since the presidential election in November, including donations and volunteers. They say to help stop the bill from passing, citizens should call their local senator’s office.