This past Tuesday, the House voted to defund Planned Parenthood in Virginia amidst the protests of women’s rights advocates on the Capitol grounds and in the House Chamber. The House approved HB 2264, which cuts off federal funding of Title X for Planned Parenthood and any other groups that perform abortions in Virginia.
13News Now reported that demonstrators in DC lined the sidewalks and held signs supporting women’s rights as legislators walked past. Demonstrators were even sitting in the first row of the House gallery overlooking the floor, urging delegates to vote against the bill.
The proponents of the bill, namely Delegates Dave LaRock (R – Loudon) and Ben Cline (R- Amherst), espoused the merits of the bill based on beliefs that abortion is “morally repugnant” and that the general populace supports that belief.
Planned Parenthood responded by detailing how only 3% of the services it provides are abortions while the majority of their services are devoted to cancer screenings, STI testing, and contraception distribution among other women’s services. The cutbacks in funding will primarily have the effect of reducing the availability of STI testing for many women in the state.
In the days since, there have been protests throughout Virginia against Planned Parenthood, in support of the new legislation. Many groups, such as the Virginia Civic Engagement Table, Progress Virginia, and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia have come out in protest against the new legislation and in response to the demonstrations in support of HB 2264.
In an act of counter protest, members of the Charlottesville community staged a protest in support of Planned Parenthood and against not only the new legislation, but also the anti-abortion protests throughout Virginia. This came a day after a protest in support of LGBTQ+ rights on the Lawn.
The protest was held Saturday morning in front of the office of Republican Representative Tom Garrett, who recently assumed office in succession of Robert Hurt. During his tenure at the Virginia State Senate, Garrett patroned SB 826, a bill that repealed taxpayer funding for non federally-funded abortions. In supporting HB 2264, he thus repealed funding on the federal level.