Va. Gov.’s determination to gut abortion clinic regulations continues unabated


By Dave Andrusko

Pro-abortion Virginia Gov. McAulifee and Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia

Pro-abortion Virginia Gov. McAulifee and Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia

As we come to the end of the week, here is an update on pro-abortion Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s all-out effort to gut a 2011 Virginia law that required abortion clinics to upgrade their facilities about which we last wrote earlier this month.

There was ample room for mischief since (as is often the case) the specifics of implementing the law–formulating the rules–were left to someone else—in this case the state Board of Health. Pro-abortionists successful prevented the rules from taking effect until McAuliffe was elected governor in the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2013.

“As a candidate, McAuliffe said he would do away with the regulations by issuing a ‘guidance opinion,’ a mechanism whose existence legal experts later called into question,” according to Washington Post reporter Laura Vozzella.

Once he became governor, McAuliffe “stacked the 15-member health board with five new abortion rights supporters, after nudging four members to wrap up their terms a month early.”

Then, in May, in the first executive directive of his term, McAuliffe called for expediting the usual review process, which wouldn’t have begun until as late as 2017. Which brings us to last week.

According to the Post’s Jenna Portnoy, the Board of health “offered a public update on a lengthy review process that could result in repealing or rewriting the regulations — but could take years to complete.”

The benefit to pro-abortionists is obvious. In the interim McAuliffe can appoint still more members who shared his dislike for requiring abortion clinics to upgrade—and those “years to complete” will suddenly disappear once he has a sufficient number of compliant board of health members.

Reporting on the “public update,” Portnoy explained that the Health Department is supposed to take public input and then write a report by October 1.

“Using the report to inform her decision, Marissa Levine, the state’s interim health commissioner, will decide whether the rules should be retained, amended or repealed,” Portnoy reported.

“She will report her decision to the board in December, and board members won’t take action until next year. By then, McAuliffe (D) is expected to appoint more members who side with him on access to abortion.

McAuliffe appointed Levine to the post in February. If she decides that the rules should be amended, the governor and the board will have the chance to weigh in before the agency begins to develop new proposed regulations.”

Perhaps the most significant news in Portnoy’s story was her conclusion:

“The board did not address McAuliffe’s indication last month that he hoped to find a way to soften the regulations to keep existing clinics open while the board completes its review.

“Abortion rights activists have said that state health officials have the power to issue one-year variances to clinics that demonstrate they are trying to comply with the rules but cannot do so by deadline.

“There is nothing in the regulations that would prohibit officials from granting a succession of one-year variances, the activists said.”