Fairfax County area abortion clinic, legislators react to possible end of Roe v. Wade

Supreme Court (via SCOTUS)

News that the Supreme Court plans to overturn its landmark 1973 abortion-rights Roe v. Wade decision prompted a rush of support to at least one Fairfax County area abortion clinic and expressions of concern from many legislators representing the area.

The Supreme Court confirmed that a leaked draft opinion published on Monday (May 2) by Politico is authentic, adding that the document does not represent the “final position on any member on issues in the case.”

While the decision isn’t final, it’s already drawing cheers from abortion opponents and horror from reproductive justice advocates, who say a Roe v. Wade reversal will be particularly harmful for low-income people, people of color and other marginalized groups.

“If true, this opinion would be an all-out assault on a woman’s right to make choices about her own reproductive health,” U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-10th) said on Facebook. “I’m doing everything in my power to fight for the right to have an abortion.”

The Falls Church Healthcare Center has seen an outpouring of support from people wanting to volunteer, development director Mike Scheinberg said.

The private medical clinic provides abortions, gynecology and obstetrics services, counseling, and more. Less than 10% of the clinic’s patients come from out of state, but if Roe v. Wade is overturned, the health center likely would serve more such patients in the future, he said.

“Unfortunately and tragically, a decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is going to adversely [impact] mostly individuals who are pregnant people of color and those…who are not in great financial state,” Scheinberg said. “It discriminates against the poor.”

He said the possibility of curtailing abortion rights comes as little surprise, as many states, including Virginia, have put obstacles in place to limit access. The Commonwealth started requiring ultrasounds and 24-hour waiting periods in 2012, but the General Assembly repealed those measures in 2020.

Still, he said advocates are monitoring recent bills in the Commonwealth’s General Assembly.

“It’s unknown what will happen considering that our governor is a staunch opponent of abortion access,” Scheinberg said.

Wexton noted that she voted for the Women’s Health Protection Act in September 2021. The bill would turn the right to an abortion in federal law, an effort to override state legislation that seeks to enact burdensome restrictions.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11th) urged the Senate to act on the bill and said that he’s “ready to fight” for abortion as a right.

“By taking away a right for the first time in constitutional history, these zealots have utterly discredited the third branch of government & unleashed forces that will fracture America,” Connolly said on Twitter.

The case before the Supreme Court involves a 2018 Mississippi law attempting to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and others argued it was unconstitutional.

“If Roe v. Wade is overturned, the American people and their elected representatives in the 50 states would have the freedom to craft laws in accordance with their respective values,” Fairfax County Republican Committee Chairman Steve Knotts said in a statement today (Wednesday).

He said the Supreme Court wasn’t designed to write laws for the entire nation, adding that the decision was a case of “extreme overreach that needlessly polarized our culture.”

“The expected reversal of Roe v. Wade is of course welcome news to pro-lifers,” Knotts said.

Abortion remains legal in Virginia, which is not among the states with a “trigger law” that would take effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned, so any decision won’t have an immediate impact. In the Commonwealth, though, three physicians must approve third-trimester abortions.

However, Gov. Glenn Youngkin has expressed support for criminalizing abortion after 20 weeks, and the state Senate’s Democratic majority is not united on the issue.

Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said in a statement that he “will never prosecute a woman for making her own healthcare decisions.”

Several Virginia state legislators who represent Fairfax County shared similar commitments, including Sen. Dave Marsden (D-37th) and Del. Kaye Kory (D-38th).

“I will always fight for reproductive choice,” Sen. Scott Surovell (D-36th) said on Twitter. “This opinion reinforces the need to enshrine choice in the code of Virginia.”

The Fairfax County Democratic Committee retweeted a statement by President Joe Biden that noted Roe v. Wade has been the law of the land for nearly half a century, saying legislators need to act with him to preserve abortion rights.

Photo via Supreme Court