VA Governor McDonnell passes health regulations for abortion clinics; abortion advocates outraged

Virginia governor Bob McDonnell has finally approved regulations that could force some abortion clinics to close, after two years of controversial debate. Despite the regulations having bipartisan support, pro-aborts were still up in arms over the passing, which merely forces clinics to address dangerous conditions which could potentially place women’s lives at risk.

After one the most contentious debates of the 2011 General Assembly session, legislators voted to regulate abortion clinics like outpatient surgical centers. It fell to the health board to implement the new rules, which call for costly physical renovations, such as widening hallways and doorways, that some clinic officials say could put them out of business.

… Now that McDonnell has signed off on the regulations, the state will solicit public comment for a 60-day period. After that, the board is likely to take the matter up for a final vote in March.


The standards that abortion clinics will be held to are seemingly commonsense:

The regulations include licensing and unannounced inspections of abortion centers. They also require standards regarding medical personnel like requiring that the doctor remain on premises until a woman is actually ready to be discharged, improved sanitary conditions, and emergency equipment for cardiac arrest, seizure, respiratory distress and other critical medical situations. Abortion centers would also have to be built, or improved within two years, to standards similar to ambulatory surgical facilities.

But abortion advocates are still furious.

“After two years of shocking backroom deals and bullying public health servants, Gov. Bob McDonnell is clearly proving his disregard of Virginians’ opinions about women’s health care,” NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia Executive Director Tarina Keene said on Monday.

… “Despite testimony that showed the proposed regulations will likely drive up health care costs for patients and drive health providers out of practice, under pressure from the Attorney General’s office, the Board of Health chose to rubber stamp the draft regulations,” the Virginia Coalition to Protect Women’s Health said in a statement (PDF) at the time. “The sad fact is that the new regulations passed have no proven medical benefit to patients and, instead, will only serve to further limit patient access to abortion care as well as life saving cancer screenings, birth control, and the wide range of preventive care provided at women’s reproductive health centers.”

It’s abhorrent that these people, who claim to have women’s best interests at heart, would fight against regulations and standards that actually protect women and ensure that they are receiving the best possible medical care. Considering that many tattoo parlors have stricter regulations than abortion clinics, it should be a welcome development. Consider that Virginia abortion clinics were operating in abysmal conditions after Hurricane Sandy, with flooding, leaking water, and mold, or the number of botched abortions that occur at clinics like Planned Parenthood. There was Kermit Gosnell’s house of horrors in Pennsylvania, and Virginia’s clinics were found to be replete with their own horrific conditions as well. Women are injured and killed at abortion clinics, and many operate under less than sanitary standards.

This is why regulations like these are needed. If allowed to, abortionists will practice in sub-par conditions which wouldn’t be acceptable even in a veterinary clinic. Yet pro-aborts fight them in the name of protecting women. That is how extreme their devotion to the altar of abortion is. If a clinic is forced to close, it will be because that clinic refused to adhere to standards designed to keep women safe. But these abortion proponents would rather have women get abortions in filthy, disgusting, unsafe clinics. So who exactly is it that’s really fighting a war on women here?

  • Rebecca Downs

    And this is an outrage… why? Here’s the thing abortion advocates unfortunately don’t seem to understand. They got abortion legalized on demand and for any reason, good for you. It’s bad enough that the industry is allowed to exist and make money off of killing children and harming women. But if they want to be regarded as “medicine,” “health care,” etc., they have to be held to standards, and cannot expect to be treated as better than other clinics/industries who *are* regulated. Unless the industry really does just want to harm/kill women as well as babies more often, then such regulations are just common sense! I’ve noticed in such statements pro-abortion advocates make, such as the one included in this article, start off very general as they beat the drum of “opinion” and “health care.” Not surprising…

  • You’re actually shocked it’s an outrage? Governor ultra-sound and the rest of the misogynist white male cabal in Virginia have essentially stomped on women’s right’s and to add insult to injury did it in the middle of the night like a bunch of slimy thieves. Time for lawsuits by the justice department and NARAL.

    • Rebecca Downs

      Wow… and here proves my point. There are people who actually think this way, though it may come to a great shock. The outrage is that these “advocates” are more beholden to the abortion industry than the same of women! Abortionists already perform an ultrasound! They have to otherwise they don’t know how to effectively kill the baby without harming the mother, and can cause infertility or worse. But if you allow a woman the right to see the ultrasound and make a choice other than murder, well heaven forbid… people who oppose such common sense laws clearly have not read about the horrifying conditions or they simply do not care about women. There is really no other answer you can honestly say. And yes, the Justice Department may sue, because it only believes that pro-abortion forces have rights in this country, and that if you say otherwise you may even be considered a domestic terrorist. Luckily, there was a judge with common sense who at least ordered damages to be paid to one innocent woman they ridiculously tried to bring a case against. Also, it’s really beyond tiring to hear pro-life men described as misogynists simply for being pro-life. And people think are side generalizes and is bigoted?

  • Deege

    Patient safety regulations are a very worthy concern. They should not be used as political strategies to achieve other ideological ends. The regulatory process was misused as a political referendum on abortion, and the regulatory hearings were replete with political demonstrations for and against abortion rights. The promoters of the Virginia regulations pretended to be spurred by patient focus, but the regulations were transparently conceived for other political and ideological purposes. While the regulations may prove beneficial to the safer operation of abortion clinics, that was not the motive behind their creation. More on this below. Interestingly, some commentators posit that the proliferation of shiny, new abortion clinics that meet these regulations could in fact normalize abortion further and frustrate the intentions of the pro-life groups that promoted the regulations as part of an agenda to restrict abortion access.

    I live in Virginia. Many people, me included, have trouble separating the regulations themselves from the circumstances surrounding their passage. The regulations were a pet project of Victoria Cobb, a powerful anti-abortion (not pro-life by my definition, just anti-abortion) lobbyist in Virginia who not-so-coincidentally happens to be married to the highest deputy health official in McDonnell’s administration. The fact that they were fast-tracked as “emergency regulations” looked like a power play because no health organization, patient advocacy organization, doctor or medical organization advocated for the regulations nor had there been any recent emergencies, news stories or other activity. The regs were generated, promoted and advocated for by pro-life groups, spearheaded by Mrs. Cobb’s group, that have no primary interest in making abortion safer; only in making it illegal. The regulations were “emergency fast tracked” immediately after Republicans achieved majority in both branches of the Virginia legislature. That looked like politics, not safety. The public was supposed to suddenly believe that pro-life organizations had become patient advocates, when the truth was — and is– that the clinic regulation strategy is the cornerstone tactic of AUL’s strategy to chip away at abortion access (or, as Charmaine Yoest puts it, make Roe vs. Wade “crumble under its own weight); it is not focused on making abortion safer. The “model legislation” for the Virginia regs came from AUL, and the parties involved were vocal that women’s health was an ancillary benefit that’s hard to argue with, making this a savvy political strategy to chip away at access — the real goal. So any reasonable discussion about the “commonsense” nature of the regulations was tainted by the deception involved in the promotion of those regulations. Pro-iife organizations were not interested in or active in safety regulations when Virginia women were being hurt (or even dying) from leaky breast implants or unregulated plastic surgery clinics. They pretended to become women’s health advocates as an expedient position in the strategy to restrict abortion access. Much good can come out of the regulations if they are implemented properly, but the deception will not be erased.

    Many of the regulations make good sense (widening hallways for emergency personnel, safety inspections, credentialing) while others have questionable relation to patient safety (increasing the number of patient parking spaces, changing the height of drinking fountains). Most egregiously, the regulations require all abortion centers to be set up as surgical centers if they perform 5 or more first trimester abortions a year. Even if none of them are surgical. So a clinic that only dispenses medication abortions has to pay for and maintain a surgical center for absolutely no reason. The law does not delineate between surgical and medication abortions. That’s not sloppy lawmaking, it’s deliberate. It’s not “commonsense” legislation; it’s politics pretending to be patient advocacy. Such clinics should be required to have hospital affiliations for emergencies if safety is really the reason for the regs.. Making them rebuild as surgery centers even if they don’t perform surgery is the kind of thing that bolsters people’s concerns about so-called TRAP regulations. When the purveyors of patient safety regulations can’t show their true motivation is patient safety, and instead use patient safety concerns as a smokescreen toward a completely different ideological goal, they lose their trustworthiness.

    The Commissioner of the Department of Health in Virginia resigned over the implementation of these regulations and how they were handled. She was a well-respected public servant dedicated to public health who had served under multiple administrations. Her resignation said much about the toxic process that was used in this regulatory strategy. The safety benefits of the regulations themselves became secondary matter, which, while sad, truthfully shows that patient safety was never what they were about.