Virginia now has some of the toughest abortion clinic regulations in the country after the State Board of Health voted Thursday on new emergency rules.
Their goal is to improve health and safety conditions during and after abortion procedures. But opponents say it’s a step backwards in providing services by low-cost facilities, and the price tag could force the state’s 22 abortion clinics to close. The new Emergency Regulations require facilities that perform five or more first-trimester abortions to obtain licenses under hospital guidelines and they require annual inspections. Former state Health Department Director Bill Nelson said clinics already have stringent rules, and called the charge that they’re dangerous unfounded:
“The idea that you can’t find data that it’s dangerous and then to hear a voice say you need to find out what’s going on in those clinics represents a very serious threat to the privacy and the safety of abortion providers and more importantly to the women of Virginia who come to those clinics.”
Nelson says records should be redacted, not removed from clinics for review as proposed. Family Foundation spokesman Chris Freund countered that the many other services which facilities provide will NOT be jeopardized:
“All of the medical services that have been mentioned today as services in these facilities can continue. The clinic will have to make a choose of either improving their standards to continue to provide abortion or stop providing abortion to continue the other services.”
One board member offered amendments, including exempting clinics that use a pill for the procedure and facilities deemed compliant after the year 2000. Those measures were rejected.
By Tommie McNeil