Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has signed new regulations on first-trimester abortion clinics requiring architectural renovations to change clinics into hospitals and change government oversight. Under the regulations, state authorities can enter a clinic to inspect at any time without notice to examine patient medical records, gather a list of current patients, and interview patients on site potentially violating both patient and provider privacy.
The Virginia Coalition to Protect Women’s Health issued a statement denouncing the regulations: “It’s an outrage that Gov. McDonnell has used public health regulations to play partisan politics in an attempt to limit – or eliminate – access to safe, legal abortion care in the Commonwealth. The new regulations target health centers that provide a range of reproductive health care, including abortion, put women’s health at risk, and trample women’s rights. In these difficult economic times, when Virginians need more access to affordable, high quality health care, not less, women and families around the Commonwealth may now find themselves struggling to find a health care provider.”
Jessica Bearden Laurenz, director of public policy at Planned Parenthood Health Systems added, “These regulations are clearly politically motivated. They are medically unnecessary. They don’t adequately protect patient privacy and there is a risk that high quality health centers in Virginia will have to close as a result.” In total, these regulations on first-trimester abortion providers are the most extreme seen to date in the nation.
WSET 12/30/11; Virginia Coalition to Protect Women’s Health Statement 12/29/11