Most of Virginia’s Abortion Clinics Could Close Under New Restrictions

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has done some crazy things during his short tenure, but now the anti-choice politician has come out swinging against abortion in a state where the issue is already heavily fraught.  Earlier this week, Cuccinelli issued a legal opinion, saying that Virginia’s Board of Health should have broad authority to impose restrictions on abortion clinics (the Board will, needless to say, soon be filled with appointees by conservative governor Bob McDonnell).  This is a dramatic move, especially since the General Assembly has been trying unsuccessfully to pass restrictions like these on abortion clinics for the past eight years.

Abortion clinics in Virginia are currently regulated like offices where patients receive oral or plastic surgery, but these restrictions would require them to meet hospital-type standards with respect to space and equipment.  Hallways would have to be widened to allow two gurneys to pass through the hallway at once (even though many of these facilities don’t use gurneys), swinging doors would have to be installed, and the clinics would have to be located within 15 miles of an emergency room.  These, needless to say, are changes that most abortion clinics cannot afford.

NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia Executive Director Tarina Keene estimated that 17 of the 21 abortion providers would have to close down if the Board of Health imposed the restrictions.  Combined with the fact that 86% of Virginia counties have no abortion provider, Cuccinelli’s order could effectively render abortion inaccessible for most Virginia women.

I grew up in Virginia, and as a veteran of pro-choice lobby days in the mid-2000′s, while I was in high school, I’m very familiar with the targeted regulation of abortion provider (TRAP) laws that were introduced and rejected each year.  Cuccinelli supported those failed bills while he was in the state senate, and is now trying to circumvent the General Assembly.

Cuccinelli is claiming that this is about protecting a pregnant woman’s health and safety.  But clearly, this is not about women’s health, it’s about Cuccinelli’s own extreme ideology.  Surgical abortion is one of the safest types of medical procedures.  And Cuccinelli’s regulations would actually have the opposite effect – by reducing women’s access to early abortion, he increases the possibility that women will seek later-term, riskier procedures.

In an editorial published on Wednesday, the Washington Post put it succinctly: “Virginia lawmakers have repeatedly rejected efforts to enact legislation that could seriously limit that right in the state. Politicians should not now try to achieve this dubious goal through regulatory sleight of hand. “

What’s clear is that Cuccinelli does not want Virginia women to have access to abortion.  And he’s willing to stop them by any means necessary.

Photo from Flickr.


Cheryl B.
Cheryl Bresney7 years ago

Anti-choice is pro-death of living children you impoverish and refuse to support. Consider this: 80-88% of all abortions are sought by poor women supporting 2 living children, working 2 jobs with NO benefits whose employer would rather fire her than allow sick days. Fact: The same pro-death squads are now trying to eliminate the pill and "repeal" minimum wage. Women and even child victims of rape and incest, should be forced into human incubation even-if-it-kills-them. Can somebody define evil?

Taylor M.
Taylor M7 years ago

What many pro-choice activists don't realize is that pro-life activists are FOR women. The whole point of the pro-life movement is to provide information and help to women with unwanted pregnancies. Crisis pregnancy shelters are there to HELP women not to abandon them. To be honest, abortion clinics are the real enemies to women. You can go to an abortion clinic website and look up how the procedures are done and they WILL NOT tell the whole truth about the procedures, and WILL NOT give details. These clinics are in for the money, and that's it. They lure women in, take advantage of them at their weakest moment, tell them they are making the right CHOICE, kill their baby, and then kick them out the door. Pro-life crisis pregnancy shelters are there for women during and AFTER the pregnancy, available for counseling, supplies, information, and classes. Pro-life activists are really actually pro-WOMEN activists as well, and abortion clinics are really actually pro-MONEY activists.

Karen Cartwright-Williams

I personally am against abortion for ME personally. But I feel every person has the right to choose. Some politicians don't want women to be allowed abortions even if they got pregnant through rape... Because somehow thats how "GOD" wanted it...

I say government needs to stay out of my vagina! People should have to right to choose what is right for THEM. Not what the government thinks is right for them. Its so funny how these same politicans claim so many poor people are on welfare with a bunch of kids... But if you can't afford a baby in the first place and can't bare to live knowing somewhere some stranger is taking care of your flesh and blood, then what options do you have?

I mean seriously people its not that complicated. Let people have the right to choose what they want to do with their own body and leave it at that.

Next thing you know the government will be arranging who we will get married to (oh wait too late) and making all women stay home and bake cookies while the man folk go to work and make a living...


Charles Webb
Charles Webb7 years ago

Abortion is the barbaric mutillation and murder of a living human being. Why aren't we more civilized than that? Every aborted baby has a heartbeat as seen on ultrasound. They also have nervous systems and can feel pain when they are being ripped apart. Baby killers try to hide those facts, but they are facts all the same. There wasn't ultrasound when Roe/v/Wade was passed, or it would have never happened. Before abortion was legal, girls went to homes for unwed mothers, where they got an education and their babies got homes when they were born. There is still a huge demand for newborn babies. Yes, some went to back ally abortionists and took the chance and paid the price. That was their choice and they got what they asked for. Abortion was always ok if the mother was in danger. The most common danger was a tubal pregnancy. The embryo is tiny at that point and was always justified to save the mother's life. There are only a few days in the month when a woman can become pregnant. The chances of her being raped during one of those days is very slim indeed. Perhaps, if the rape is reported promptly, evidence given, and the pregnancy is a result of that rape, exception can be given. I am even iffy about that, because it's not the baby's fault. Besides, that is a law enforcement issue. Tougher punishment on these men is needed.

Edith B.
Edith B7 years ago

Politicians need to stay out of women's health issues and quit using abortion as a platform to be reelected. Before abortions were made legally there were thousands of deaths of young women who attempted them on their on or went to a back alley doctor. Is this really what the state of Virginia wants to be happening?

jane richmond
jane richmond7 years ago

My body does still belong to me? Obviously not in Virginia.
There still are times that abortion may be the ONLY answer.

Cheyenne Ziermann

Scary scary scary! While we become more modern & open, we seem to be taking some huge steps backwards...

Jane H.
Jane H7 years ago

This is getting scary---there are only 2 places in Kentucky where women can get abortions.

Morgan G.
Morgan Getham7 years ago

I am appalled at the inconsistencies of both the left AND the right when it comes to the idea of "legislating through regulation". The same people who are decrying this Virginia effort at back-door regulation of abortion are also egging on the federal regulators who are trying to use federal regulations to control carbon emissions because they know that they can't get those same limits passed as federal laws.

A person of principle should take a consistent stand either for or against this sort of back-door legislation. I'll come right out and say that I'm AGAINST such regulation. I don't care whose ox is getting gored. If we're going to have new "laws" in the guise of "regulations", the LEGISLATURE should be required to PASS them by public vote and face the consequences. The job should not be fobbed off on unelected officials or established by fiat by someone besides the representatives whose JOB it is to make our laws.

pam w.
pam w7 years ago

Either AMBER has never been raped and become pregnant or she's never realized the terror of contraception which failed and left her pregnant.

I'm glad for that--and I'm sorry she has so little compassion and empathy that she can't support a woman IN that situation.

Ultimately, this comes down to a few self-appointed moralists who want to insert their narrow religious view into womens' reproductive lives.

We WILL find a way to overcome this--we always have and we always will.