By Dave Andrusko
On Wednesday, NRL News Today wrote about a decision by an Arlington County judge to allow a lawsuit to go forward, challenging new abortion clinic regulations passed by the Virginia Board of Health in April. (See “Judge allows lawsuit against Virginia abortion clinic regulations to go forward”) I had little to go on but a brief Associated Press news story.
But yesterday the Washington Post’s Rachel Weiner and Antonia Olivo filled in many of the missing details. The story they tell is very much worth revisiting.
The battle has gone on so long we tend to forget that it is not as if on its own the Virginia Board of Health decided to ramp up what is required of abortion clinics. The General Assembly passed a law in 2011 requiring that abortion clinics be treated like outpatient surgical centers. As is often the case, the specifics of implementing the law (formulating the rules) were left to someone else—in this case the Board of Health.
Pro-abortionists tried everything under the sun to derail the rules, or to remove their teeth. They were unsuccessful until June 2012 when out of the blue the Board of Health decided to “grandfather” in the 20 existing abortion clinics, meaning they were exempt from the new building standards, staff training, sanitation, and equipment standards.
This was flatly at odds with what the state legislature had intended and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli told the Board of Health so in so many words.
In July the Board changed its mind and reversed itself on a 13-2 vote. Pro-abortionists turned their blatant misrepresentation of the state’s intent into a critique of Cuccinelli (who is now running for governor) for supposedly “bullying” the Board.
However since the previous pro-abortion governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine [now Senator Kaine], appointed five members of the Board, the overwhelming 13-2 vote must have included at least three of his appointees, if not more. But neither the overwhelming margin nor the commonsense position of Mr. Cuccinelli was allowed to interrupt the media narrative: Cuccinelli had “bullied” the Board into changing its position, as part of the “right wing Republican’s” allegedly “radical” agenda.
To be fair, the ensuing Washington Post’s story gave space to the reasons some of those members changed their vote. In reporter Laura Vozzella’s story we read
“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.’”
Which brings us to this week and the decision by Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Kendrick in the lawsuit brought by the Falls Church Health Care Center abortion clinic. The state asked for a dismissal, Kendrick refused, and predicted the lawsuit will eventually go to the state appeals court.
Looming in the background is the November election which pits pro-abortion Democrat Terry McAuliffe against pro-life Cuccinelli. McAuliffe opposes the rules, Cuccinelli supports them.
According to the Post’s Weiner and Olivo
“’I do imagine the election will have an impact,’ [abortion clinic attorney Lawrence] Roberts said, pointing to Cuccinelli’s and McAuliffe’s differing views on abortion. A new attorney general could decide not to defend the Board of Health in court, he added.”
The final touch was provided by Rosemary Codding, director of the abortion clinic. The Post reporters wrote that “she called the judge’s decision a ‘spiritually uplifting’ victory during a very difficult time for her practice.
“’As a woman of very strong faith, I know God is with me,’ she said. ‘My faith in government has been uplifted.’”