New Virginia Regulations Could Shut Down Most Abortion Clinics

As a Virginia resident, I was deeply ashamed to see that the state senate voted earlier this week to pass a bill that would require clinics that provide first-trimester abortions to comply with Board of Health regulations on hospitals, which are far more stringent than the regulations which now apply to these clinics.  Governor Bob McDonnell is expected to sign the bill into law, marking a giant step backward for abortion access in Virginia.

The Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers (TRAP) bill has been proposed in the Virginia legislature for as long as I can remember, but each year it gets voted down.  Last summer, however, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli took matters into his own hands when he empowered the Board of Health to apply these stricter regulations on abortion clinics if they chose.  He was accused of circumventing the General Assembly, but the legislature now seems to be backing him up by finally passing this bill, which could close 17 of the state’s 21 abortion clinics because the required renovations would be too expensive.  The clinics that would survive are ones that have been built in recent years and deliberately comply to these standards.

One of the often-cited requirements for these facilities is that two gurneys would be able to pass each other in the clinics’ hallways.  David Nova, the vice president of Virginia’s Planned Parenthood Health Systems, says that gurneys are rarely used, and that these stipulations, far from making abortion clinics safer, will simply make abortion more expensive and difficult to access.

“Regardless of if you could stay open, this is going to drive up the cost of abortions in Virginia,” Nova said. “It will be considerably more expensive and therefore less accessible, in particular for low-income clients. For many, they will find it less onerous to leave the state.”

Abortion rights advocates may sue the state, saying that the new restrictions place an unconstitutional burden on a woman’s ability to access an abortion.  According to the Washington Post, most of the 26,000 abortions performed in Virginia in 2009 were in clinics that were regulated in the same way as other outpatient procedures, like colonoscopies or plastic surgery.

With these new regulations, Virginia will become one of the most difficult places in the country to access a first-trimester abortion.  If you’re a Virginia resident, contact your state legislators and let them know how unhappy you are with this bill.  We can only hope that pro-choice advocates’ attempts to sue the state over this measure will be successful.

Photo from Flickr.

126 comments

jane richmond
jane richmond5 years ago

My body MY choice.

Laura D.
Laura D.5 years ago

Oh, so now first trimester abortions are too bad as well? For all those demanding women take responsibility for their unplanned pregnancies, know that some women are told up front that their husband/boyfriend wants that baby--until they actually get pregnant and the guy flees. You can't force parenthood on someone if they don't want it. And are you going to pony up that cash to support the pregnant woman and her child?

And what about married couples that wanted a child only to find they could not afford it after losing a job? Married people get abortions too, you know.

What about rape victims? Incest? Must they be tortured by a pregnancy. And YES, forcing someone to be pregnant is a form of torture. I certainly would consider it torture if someone forced me to carry an unwanted parasite. How on earth people can justify putting the life of a witless embryo over the well-being of a sentient, self-aware ADULT is completely beyond me.

April Thompson
April Thompson5 years ago

Stay out of our wombs!

Heather G.
Heather G.5 years ago

amber says, "women don't need to access abortion." Oh, really Amber?? why do think abortion is LEGAL?? what next? women don't need access to birth control, pap smears, breast exams, prenatal care?

William Seuffert
bill Seuffert5 years ago

@Nancy.... if a woman is pregnant she can go to a clinic and get it aborted without the males consent in fact he has no say. so why is that it takes two to tango when the male has no rights in the stake of the child? Both males and females need to learn to keep the legs closed at every little whim/

Nancy Dodson
Nancy Dodson5 years ago

Sorry for the double post. Don't know what happened!

Nancy Dodson
Nancy Dodson5 years ago

Why is it always the woman who must bear the brunt of an unwanted pregnancy? It takes two to tango! So since the woman will be unable to get birth control, prenatal care, medical care for her and her baby thanks to the Repubs I think I have the solution. How about we sterilize any man or boy who gets a woman or girl pregnant? At least he won't be able to do it again!

Yeah, I know, it sounds silly, but if that became law I'll bet all these men who are so anxious to take away all rights to a woman would be so horrified by the thought that the pregnancy and it's outcome would also be the responsibility of the daddy they might back off! Ya think?? I don't think so either!

Nancy Dodson
Nancy Dodson5 years ago

Why is it always the woman who must bear the brunt of an unwanted pregnancy? It takes two to tango! So since the woman will be unable to get birth control, prenatal care, medical care for her and her baby thanks to the Repubs I think I have the solution. How about we sterilize any man or boy who gets a woman or girl pregnant? At least he won't be able to do it again!

Yeah, I know, it sounds silly, but if that became law I'll bet all these men who are so anxious to take away all rights to a woman would be so horrified by the thought that the pregnancy and it's outcome would also be the responsibility of the daddy they might back off! Ya think?? I don't think so either!

Amber M.
Amber Beasley5 years ago

women don't need to be able to access abortion. so this is a great thing.
women can start taking responsibility for their choices.

Eli C.
Elisa C.5 years ago

Terrible! The right has been attacking women all over the country as of late. This has to stop!