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Virginia abortion rights advocates mull mobile clinics

Advocates for abortion rights are trying to figure out how Virginia might end up providing the procedure to women from prohibition states.

Virginia currently has 15 abortion clinics, mostly in metropolitan areas. For people coming from neighboring states like Tennessee that outlaw abortion, the closest clinic is in Roanoke. But Tarina Keene at Repro Rising says mobile units close to the state line might be a way to help people from prohibition states.

"It might be that you cross over the border and there could be some kind of an access point there for you to receive your pills and also do a virtual appointment with your provider," Keene says.

Virginia is one of 23 states allowing patients to receive abortion pills through the mail without seeing a doctor in person. Steven Aden at Americans United for Life says that's reckless.

"Unfortunately, the Biden administration in a political move removed the requirement that there be an in-person dispensing requirement and now has unfortunately opened Pandora's Box to allow pills to be sent in by mall from various places," says Aden. "So we're seeing in different places a call for general availability of abortion pills, which is extremely dangerous."

Advocates for abortion rights say the medications are safe and effective. The FDA first approved such medication in 2000.

Next year, Virginia lawmakers are expected to debate a ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy or even a declaration that life begins at conception. Part of that debate is going to center around who has access to medication, and how they receive it.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.