Abortion Clinics in Va. Get Tighter Regulations
Abortion clinics in Virginia are now subject to stricter guidelines that would hold the clinics to architectural standards that many facilities don't presently meet and establish yearly licensing protocols and procedures for unannounced inspections, The Virginian-Pilot reports.
According to the Pilot, the Virginia Board of Health voted 12-1 on Thursday to approve the new regulations, which will take effect by the start of next year.
The new rules are now headed to the attorney general's office and Gov. Bob McDonnell's administration for review.
The vote came after a lengthy public hearing and discussion by the 15-member board, which is composed of nine Republican and six Democratic appointees. Two Democratic appointees were absent Thursday.
According to the Pilot, many abortion opponents, including some faith-based advocacy groups, support the board’s decision. Abortion rights supporters, however, claim the regulations are designed to force clinics out of business by imposing standards that make compliance difficult.
They estimate that as many as 17 of the more than 20 clinics in the state could cease operations, the Pilot reports.
Board member James H. Edmondson Jr., from Northern Virginia, was the only member to vote against the regulations. Edmondson told the Pilot he is skeptical that the law is a means to enhance safety. "It had to do with trying to limit access to abortions," he said. "Perhaps they succeeded. But maybe in the long run they won't."
Board Chairman Bruce Edwards of Virginia Beach disagreed, saying the decision had nothing to do with politics. "These folks were appointed to do a job and that is to maintain the safety and health of the citizens of this commonwealth, and that's what they do," Edwards told the Pilot.