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Continuing to Care for Women of Fairfax City

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Laura Meyers

Recently, the Fairfax City Council passed an ordinance creating a new zoning classification—“medical care facilities.” Under the new ordinance, women’s health centers are now classified in the same zoning category as hospitals, surgical centers, and urgent care units—meaning women’s health centers are now required to receive a "Special Use Permit” in order to operate.

We understand and appreciate the city council’s need to implement regulations which best serve their residents. And we respect the council’s position that the previous zoning ordinance was no longer useful. However, as applied, we believe that the new zoning ordinance is onerous and medically unnecessary.

The ordinance compounds upon the targeted restriction of abortion providers recently enacted by state legislators by forcing women’s health centers to undergo an expensive, drawn out process that relies on arbitrary measures like parking spaces to decide whether or not a health center may open. These new measures do little to improve women’s health care and actually restrict women’s access to reproductive health care within the City of Fairfax.

Unfortunately, we’ve already seen one health center in Fairfax City, NOVA Women’s Healthcare, close. And, neither the old zoning law nor the new ordinance would allow that health center to open again today meaning that the women of that area are left without vital services. That’s why we are committed to promoting women’s health in Fairfax City and educating the community as to how this ordinance is bad for women’s health.

Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington D.C. has operated in Northern Virginia for over 70 years, advocating for access to high quality, affordable health care for all women. More than 90 percent of our services are preventive care measures like birth control, life-saving cancer screenings, STI testing, sex education, and safe and legal abortion. We work every day to keep women healthy—proudly serving over 700 patients in Fairfax City. Planned Parenthood health centers provided care to more than 24,000 patients last year in Virginia.

And, we have more than 148,000 grassroots supporters statewide, fighting with us to ensure that women have affordable access to the health services they deserve and are legally entitled to receive. As a leading advocate for women's health care in Northern Virginia, we will continue to be a part of the discussion here in Fairfax City and will continue to serve the women of the community. We urge the city council to craft a new policy that addresses the unique needs of their community which includes continued access to the full range of reproductive care for the women of Fairfax City—right here, where they live.

Whatever the result is of this new zoning ordinance, Planned Parenthood is committed to continuing to provide care—no matter what.

For more information, contact Laura.meyers@ppmw.org.