NRL News

Cuccinelli Refuses to Accept abortion clinic regs issued by Virginia State Board of Health

by | Aug 30, 2012





By Dave Andrusko

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli

On Monday the office of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli sent a memo to State Health Commissioner Karen Remley, refusing to certify regulations the State Board of Health issued last month, saying the Board exceeded its statutory authority in exempting existing abortion clinics from a new law intended to treat abortion facilities like hospitals.

While Cuccinelli’s ruling is the official legal opinion of the state, there are other voices to be heard. The ultimate decision rests with Gov. Bob McDonnell, who could send the regulations back to the board with amendments. The Washington Examiner reported today that McDonnell “indicated Monday that he would not support regulations he doesn’t deem faithful to the intent of lawmakers.”

If McDonnell does not approve the regulations but sends back recommended changes, “the regulations go through another round of public comment, possible revisions by the Department of Health, another vote by the board and a second executive branch review before the regulations become final,” the Associated Press reported.

The regulations apply to clinics that provide five or more first-trimester abortions a month. In addition to requiring that abortion clinics meet hospital-type standards mandating the size of exam rooms and the width of hallways, the regulations also establish new requirements for inspections, medical procedures and record-keeping.

As reported in NRL News Today, under emergency regulations approved by  Gov. McDonnell last December, the clinics have been regulated as hospitals. Those emergency regulations were required under legislation adopted by the General Assembly in 2011.

But on a 7-4 vote, taken June 16, the State Board of Health said the regulations should apply only to new abortion clinics.

The Board did this even though “Senior Assistant Attorney General Allyson K. Tysinger had told the board that it lacked authority to grandfather in existing clinics, saying the law passed by the General Assembly requiring the regulations specifically mandated the tougher building standards,” according to the AP.  Tysinger repeated that advice in her one-paragraph memo to Remley.

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