Protecting Arlingtonians’ Access to Abortion and Reproductive Health Services in a Politically Hostile Environment.
On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court ended nearly 50 years of constitutional protection for the
right to abortion when it issued its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization,
explicitly overruling Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. In doing so, the Court
kicked abortion rights back to states to decide and left millions of people in the lurch who
have depended on the constitutional right to abortion to plan their lives, families, and protect
their health. Republicans in Congress have already introduced a nationwide abortion ban that
would further imperil all Americans should they enact it.
The Dobbs ruling means that Arlingtonians and other Virginians must rely on their state and
local governments to secure the right to abortion and protect them against governmental
harm in the event they need abortion care. Abortion remains legal in Virginia through the
second trimester, and after that, with an exception for the life and health of the pregnant
patient. The next couple of years will require a tough fight as Governor Glenn Youngkin and
the state legislature work to instate an abortion ban over strong opposition by Virginians.
I believe that abortion is normal health care, and that people should be free to make decisions
about their health without government intrusion and control. The Arlington County Board
must continue to utilize its influence and resources to ensure that Arlingtonians of all income
levels and racial and ethnic backgrounds have safe access to abortion and a full range of
reproductive health care. The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs also risks fraying Americans’
rights to privacy, including contraception, choice in sexual partnership and marriage, and civil
rights for sexual minorities and gender identities. I believe it is my duty on the County Board
to champion public health and civil liberties that are at risk for all our residents and visitors.
This summer, we passed a Resolution on Dobbs v. Jackson, Abortion Rights, and Public Health,
declaring the Dobbs decision a threat to public health and affirming our commitment to
protect, to the fullest extent possible, Arlington residents, visitors, and abortion practitioners
from governmental harm while we continue to advocate for legislative and regulatory abortion
protections at all levels of government. I support codifying Roe federally and a Virginia
constitutional amendment that would recognize the right to abortion, and I remain happy that
our state legislature passed the Reproductive Health Protection Act in 2020 to eliminate
medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion access and providers.
In addition, the County Board will continue to work alongside our Commonwealth’s Attorney,
Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, to ensure our residents are not prosecuted for seeking or obtaining
abortion care. While the County Board does not have singular authority over abortion and
reproductive autonomy, we don’t intend to sit on the sidelines while Arlingtonians’ lives and
health could be at stake.
Lack of abortion access will be a huge stressor on Arlington residents regardless of a possible
ban, particularly due to an influx of out-of-state visitors to Virginia who need abortion care.
With this in mind, it will be crucial for us to work with Arlington’s Family Planning Clinic to
increase its community outreach for the services it offers, including a variety of contraception
and emergency contraception options, pregnancy testing, and health exams. We’ll continue to
direct funding to this clinic because we see this as a public health issue, both mental and
physical, that poses a threat to Arlingtonians’ lives and safety. We must continue promoting
sexual health and welfare throughout Arlington County. I believe it is particularly important
for us to educate the public on the availability of telemedicine to receive abortion medication
early in pregnancy, as this will help free up resources at local clinics. I also support efforts to
research and solve Virginia’s increasing maternal mortality rate, which is especially high for
Black and Latina women.