Virginia Senate Democrat lawmakers killed a bill this week that would have required abortion facilities to provide information about abortion risks and alternatives to women before they abort their unborn babies.
The bill would have required abortion facilities to inform women about the risks of abortion, alternatives to abortion, a description of the abortion procedure and the gestational age of their unborn baby. It also would have required abortion facilities to have a doctor or nurse practitioner available to answer patients’ questions.
Kelly Lester, a former abortion worker who testified in favor of the bill, said abortion facilities often do not tell women this basic information, according to the report.
At the abortion facility where she worked, “we gave them a sheet of paper and the risks and the procedure was basically on that piece of paper and expected them to read it, and comprehend it and initial it,” Lester said. “They understood it, but we never really gave them the true information about what was going to happen.”
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She told lawmakers that she was not given informed consent when she had an abortion either.
Greenhalgh’s bill would have required the state health department to publish informed consent materials in several languages as well as information about birth and parenting support, adoption and financial aid programs. It also would have required abortion facilities to provide the information at least 24 hours before performing the abortion.
“When a woman is in a crisis situation there is an instinctual feeling that you have to do something,” Greenhalgh told lawmakers, according to the report. “There isn’t time to do the research that typically comes with other procedures.”
Olivia Gans Turner, president of the Virginia Society for Human Life, said women deserve access to medically accurate information before making a final decision about their baby’s life.
“The only people who think this sort of bill hurts women are those in the abortion business and groups that promote abortion,” Turner said.
But abortion activists slammed the informed consent bill, claiming the information would shame women seeking abortions.
“We don’t need politicians meddling in the exam room. Patient providers are already having deep conversations about informed consent before providing abortion care,” said Jamie Lockhart, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia.
Informed consent is supposed to be a regular practice for any medical procedure, but many post-abortive women and former abortion workers say most abortion facilities do not provide it. That is why many states have laws requiring informed consent for abortions. These laws help ensure that women have information about the support available when they choose life for their babies, the risks of abortion and the development of their unborn child.