By Dave Andrusko
It’s still a long way from over, but when Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on Wednesday certified new abortion regulations approved by the state board of Health September 14, it means the revised regulations should be on the desk of Gov. Bob McDonnell in the next couple of months.
If McDonnell approves the regulations, after a 60-day public comment, they will go back again to the board for a decision next year. Appearing on WTOP radio earlier this week, McDonnell said his goal is to “simply see… do they follow the law or not?,” The Richmond Times Dispatch reported.
“The bill’s already passed,” he said. The question “is do they comply with the law now?”
The controversy stems from the Board of Health’s unexpected decision in June to exempt existing abortion clinics from a 2011 law mandating that abortion clinics be treated like outpatient surgical centers, if they provide five or more first-trimester abortions a month. The regulations address such issues as building standards, staff training, sanitation, and equipment standards.
The Board did so (on a 7-4 vote) even though Senior Assistant Attorney General Allyson Tysinger had told the members that the board lacked authority to grandfather in existing clinics. She explained that the law passed by the General Assembly that required the regulations specifically mandated the tougher building standards.
Soon after the board made its decision, Cuccinelli refused to certify regulations that exempted existing abortion clinics. In July, when the board reversed itself (on a 13-2 vote), pro-abortionists reiterated their claims that these requirements were so onerous, so burdensome, abortion clinics would be forced out of business.
But “All 20 of the state’s clinics have applied for licensing, and 12 have been granted licenses after submitting plans to correct deficiencies ranging from corridors or doorways being too narrow or having inadequate hand-wash and service sinks,” said State Health Commissioner Karen Remley said, according to the Washington Times. “None have indicated an intention to close.”
As a backup position, pro-abortionists claimed that Cuccinelli had “bullied” the board. But even the Washington Post, which is hostile to the regulations in any form, ran a story the day after the vote that illustrated there were legitimate reasons to change the scope of the regulations.
“But some board members said they’d had a genuine change of heart after the board voted 7 to 4 in June to give clinics a reprieve.
“’I regretfully admit I was operating under a lot of confusion’ in June, said M. Catherine Slusher, a physician appointed by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R). ‘It’s not a matter of personal preferences. It’s a matter of the General Assembly has passed a law, and it’s up to us to create the regulations that abide with that law.’
“Rather than capitulation to Cuccinelli and McDonnell, antiabortion activist Leslie Davis Blackwell saw the about-face as a ‘Saint Paul moment’— an epiphany like the one she had a few years ago after 30 years of abortion-rights activism. She addressed the gathering to say she’d had two abortions as a young woman and now deeply regrets them.”
But the real bottom line is rarely mentioned: even if the regulations are finally adopted in their current form, “Abortion is always a dangerous procedure,” said Olivia Gans Turner, president of the Virginia Society for Human Life forcefully. “It always ends the life of an unborn baby and often causes permanent harm or death to the mothers of these children.”
Abortion is big business in Virginia, as it is across the USA, and abortion providers, like Planned Parenthood, will accommodate any rules placed upon them in order to stay in business, she noted.
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