Chris Henson

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State Board Approves New Abortion Regulations

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

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Legalities of Tracking

State legislators say technological advances and the ways that people use them are developing so rapidly that the laws can’t always keep up. The latest example is how people deploy GPS systems to track other people– frequently without their knowledge. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the General Assembly’s technology experts are considering a new law that would shorten the list of those who many legally do so.

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Researchers Say They Need More State Funding

University researchers in Virginia say they’re on the verge of making significant medical breakthroughs. But in order to achieve those results, they need more state funding. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports from the State Capitol.

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Redistricting Update

The House of Delegates and the Virginia Senate went back to work Monday to develop new plans that outline boundaries for their General Assembly districts. The previous version had been vetoed by Governor McDonnell and, as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the second version has its own hurdles to overcome.

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