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Delegate Hope, Senator Marsden, Virginia Residents Urge Passage of Restroom Access Legislation Print


January 27, 2016


RICHMOND, VA – Virginia Delegate Patrick Hope (D-47) and Senator David Marsden (D-37) were joined today by Virginia residents and volunteers from the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) to urge passage of House Bill 1123 and Senate Bill 401, which would support emergency restroom access for patients with debilitating medical conditions, like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, in public places and retail establishments across the state.

"Because Crohn's disease is an invisible disease, I don't look sick so people do not believe my urgent need for the restroom, which in turn creates more anxiety," said Carly Medosch, a Crohn's patient from Fredericksburg. "I am afraid to try to go out because of the negative experiences I had. If people understood how painful and stressful these conditions could be, I do not doubt they would enthusiastically allow restroom access. This is a simple issue of basic human dignity."

"Patients with Crohn's and ulcerative colitis live with the fear of going out in public due to the debilitating urgency the diseases can cause coupled with a lack of bathroom availability, and that is simply unacceptable," said Delegate Hope, chief patron of HB 1123. "Just as we make reasonable accommodations to patients with other conditions, we must help patients with debilitating digestive diseases to go about their lives without the constant fear of being turned away from a restroom and having an accident."

"Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are serious diseases that have led to far too many embarrassing and stressful situations," said Senator Marsden, chief patron of SB 401. "Virginians should fight for the passage of restroom access legislation and ensure that their neighbors with these and other serious medical conditions feel more secure leaving their homes."

Known collectively as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis affect more than 1.6 million Americans. They are painful, medically incurable diseases that attack the digestive system. Crohn's disease may attack anywhere along the digestive tract, while ulcerative colitis inflames only the large intestine (colon). Symptoms may include severe abdominal pain and urgency, persistent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, debilitating fatigue, and extreme weight loss. Many patients experience numerous hospitalizations and the majority requires invasive surgery.

Commonly referred to as the Restroom Access Act, House Bill 1123 would require retail establishments provide individuals with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, or other qualifying medical conditions access to its employee-only restroom if a public one is not available. Senate Bill 401 directs the Department of Health to issue an information card to individuals with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, or other qualifying medical conditions which can be shown to a retail establishment to explain why access to a private restroom is so vital.

The Restroom Access Act is law in 16 states - Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.




Dr. Abigail Vo, pictured above, is a patient and volunteer for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America.