There are a lot of ways to restrict a woman’s access to abortion services, and not all happen via legislative process. Sometimes it happens via executive appointment.
That’s the case in Virginia where Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) appointed an outspoken opponent of abortion rights to sit on the Virginia Board of Health. Dr. John W. Seeds is an obstetrician at VCU Medical Center and vice chairman on the anti-abortion group OBGYNS for Life. Seeds was one of six physicians appointed in 2011 to help draft the controversial regulations for the Virginia Department of Health, a process that became so politicized a number of the doctors involved complained that the regulations that were produced, including additional building and infrastructure requirements, were “not medically necessary” and instead driven by the radical anti-choice agenda of McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
The clinic regulations were passed by the General Assembly in 2011 as part of a last-second amendment by anti-abortion Republicans to an emergency preparedness bill that went undetected by Democrats and abortion rights advocates.
The appointment of Seeds comes just one month after the board voted 7-4 to grandfather in current abortion clinics from the new regulations, a move that prompted a tantrum from Cuccinelli and a refusal to certify the regulations.
The Coalition to Protect Women’s Health said the appointment of Seeds is a threat to the moderation of the regulations. “For Governor McDonnell to appoint Dr. James Seeds, a prominent member of an ideological anti-choice organization, to a public health body charged with acting objectively on the side of patient safety, is a clear and shocking conflict of interest,” said Tarina Keene of the Virginia Coalition to Protect Women’s Health. “With this appointment, this activist governor continues to display a disdain for women’s health, playing politics with lives instead of acting in the public interest.”
The purpose of these regulatory boards is to provide non-partisan administration and review of the laws. But stacking Boards of Health with anti-abortion ideologues has become a routine perversion of the purpose of the executive agency mission. Not that anti-abortion activists care.
Photo from markn3tel via flickr.