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Virginia Board of Health reverses decision that exempted existing abortion clinics from new clinic regulations

by | Sep 14, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli

By an overwhelming 13-2 vote, the Virginia Board of Health today reversed its June ruling that exempted the 20 existing abortion clinics from a new law mandating abortion clinics be treated like outpatient surgical centers.

The Board’s surprising 7-4 decision June 15 followed intense lobbying by pro-abortion forces. The following month Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli refused to certify the amended set of regulations that grandfathered in existing abortion clinics, determining that the Board had exceeded its authority, setting up today’s reconsideration. (See www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/news/2012/09/another-clash-expected-as-virginia-board-of-health-revisits-controversial-decision/)

According to press accounts there were hundreds of pro-life and pro-abortion supporters who gathered outside the state office building in Henrico County. The standing room crowd spilled into an overflow room. Thirty speakers were allowed to contribute their input. 

Pro-abortionists insisted the regulations were intended to drive costs up enough to put them out of business. But, as the Associated Press reported,

“State Health Commissioner Karen Remley told the board that all have already been inspected and none have indicated they will close.” That inconvenient truth received no attention in other media accounts, including the almost comically slanted story that appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Also not mentioned is that while pro-life Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell has appointed ten of the Board members, pro-abortion former Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine appointed five. At least three of Kaine’s appointments must have voted to reverse the June decision.

The regulations apply to clinics that provide five or more first-trimester abortions a month and took effect on an emergency basis on January 1. They address such issues as staff training, sanitation, and equipment standards. “Clinic operations and abortion-rights supporters say they do not object to those regulations — just the one dealing with building standards,” the AP’s Larry O’Dell reported.  

(Abortion clinic owners suddenly insisting they weren’t against regulations?)

Today’s meeting came two days after a pro-life Virginia group secured three inspection reports, obtained under the state’s Freedom of Information Act. According to the AP, reports on “nine clinics listed 80 violations on issues including infection prevention, drug storage and dispensing, poor equipment maintenance and no background checks for employees.”  A Tidewater Women’s Health Clinic in Norfolk was cited for “a number of sanitary issues, including the spilled blood and conception matter in the freezer,” the AP reported.

Prior to the Board’s decision, Brian Gottstein, director of communication for Cuccinelli, explained that the attorney general’s office does not have a timetable for determining the legal certification of the regulations that would be adopted today.

“Whatever the decision, it will be determined solely on a legal basis — as was the decision on the prior version of the regulations — not on the basis of whether or not we agree with the policy,” he said.

“Certification will be based solely on whether or not the regulations created by the board are in compliance with the law the General Assembly passed in 2011, as well as with any other applicable laws.”

For all the passion on display, the battle is still not over. “If the attorney general and the governor sign off on the regulations, they will be open to another public comment period before a final vote by the board next year,” the AP reported.

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