Editor’s note. This editorial appeared on page two of the December digital edition of National Right to Life News. You can read the entire 35-page issue at www.nrlc.org/uploads/NRLNews/NRLNewsDec2014.pdf
There are few words more telling, or more chilling, than that elections have consequences. On the affirmative side, pro-lifers made huge gains on November 4, gains that we have written about in this month’s and last month’s NRL News and on a continuous basis at National Right to Life News Today.
On the negative side, last year pro-abortion Democrat Terry McAuliffe, bolstered by a heavy advantage in campaign funding, edged pro-life Republican Ken Cuccinelli to become the governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Everyone knew—because McAuliffe made it clear—that, if elected, he would advance the abortion agenda in every way he could. One prominent example would be his promised all-out assault on attempts to upgrade the requirements abortion clinic facilities must meet.
To make an incredibly complicated story relatively straightforward, the specifics of implementing (formulating the rules) for the 2011 law passed by the legislature were left to the state Board of Health. Pro-abortionists successful prevented the rules from taking effect until McAuliffe was elected.
He has been systematically paving the way to gut the rules ever since. In May McAuliffe called for an expedited review of the rules.
In early December McAuliffe’s allies on the newly-constituted Board of Health (he has already replaced six of the 15 members of the board with appointees more to his liking) decided to move ahead with a review of rules for abortion clinics, which prompted McAuliffe to “praise the board for advancing the process,” according to Jenna Portnoy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The board’s actions, agreed to on an overwhelming 13-2 vote, are “the latest step in a lengthy process that could roll back controversial, hospital hospital-style regulations of providers that went into effect last year.”
To her credit, Portnoy noted that while the requirement that abortion clinics providing five or more first-trimester abortions a month be treated like outpatient surgical centers received almost all the attention, “the state also identified five other areas for review, including parental consent, medical testing and lab services, anesthesia services and emergency services as well as the administration, storage and dispensing of drugs.”
Threats to the parental consent component were greatly multiplied the day before the board of health met when McAuliffe appointed pro-abortion former state Senator Mary Margaret Whipple to the board. It was only to state the obvious when Portnoy wrote that the addition of Whipple, who chaired the Senate Democratic caucus, “strengthens the contingent likely to vote for the overhaul.”
In the short term, the most important consideration is that of the state’s 18 abortion clinics, 12 of the 13 who sought temporary waivers from the current rules were granted their requests. (One request is still under administrative review.) Five clinics “have said they can comply with the new standards as written,” Portnoy reported.
Even though McAuliffe wants the rules hollowed out in a hurry, in theory the process could take up to two years. But given that the new Virginia Health Commissioner, Dr. Marissa Levine, a McAuliffe appointee, is already busy handing out waivers, there is no reason to doubt she will continue to do so while the Health Department staff rolls up its sleeves and rewrites the regulations.
Once a draft is ready, the staff will provide it to the board and the public will be given another chance to comment.
NRL News interviewed Olivia Gans Turner, president of the Virginians for Human Life Society, to ask for her reaction.
“Pro-lifers know that it is imperative to try and protect women from unchecked and unscrupulous abortionists,” she said ”but also, ultimately, that abortion facilities can never be made safe places as long as babies are dying there.”
Gans Turner added, “The regulations are one step of many that would help to shine a light on the despicable practices of the abortion industry which cares little about women and nothing about unborn children.”