In a major win for Virginia women, the Board of Health voted yesterday to rescind a restrictive and medically unnecessary abortion clinic standard law that threatened 18 clinics across the state.

The VA Board of Health voted 9-6 to roll-back the Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) rules, which would have required existing abortion and women’s health clinics to adhere to strict and costly hospital-like guidelines. Critics of the TRAP laws point out that these guidelines are medically unnecessary,  and abortion rights advocates called the guidelines a politically-motivated effort to block access to legal and safe abortion.

The decision drew great praise from pro-choice Virginia groups, as well as many medical professionals working in the state.

“This victory means so much for Virginia women. I’m happy the Board of Health heard us and listened to the countless medical professionals and advocates who have worked so hard to protect Virginia health clinics,” said Alyssa Seidorf, a National Campus Organizer for the Feminist Majority Foundation. “One of the most powerful testimonies yesterday came from a student activist from the University of Mary Washington. She reflected on, as a student and as a young woman, the importance of access to the wide variety of services that women’s health clinics provide.”

Board certified maternal fetal medicine specialist Dr. Jessica DeMay said of the decision “It’s not enough to simply slow the attacks on women’s health.” DeMay added, “While I am deeply relieved that Virginia’s currently-existing women’s health centers will no longer be subject to restrictions designed specifically to shut them down, we still have more work to do to ensure that new women’s health centers can open in Virginia and provide critical medical care to thousands of women and families who need it—without inappropriate or politically-motivated barriers.”

Virginia Commissioner of Health Dr. Marissa Levine recommended that Virginia’s harsh TRAP rules restricting abortion access be amended last year. This recommendation followed a review by Virginia Governor Terry McAuiliffe, who called the rules “extreme and punitive,” warning that they could endanger women’s health.

Media Resources: Washington Post 9/17/15; NARAL Pro Choice Virginia Press Release 9/17/15; Feminist Newswire 10/2/14;

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