Republican Governor Bob McDonnell signed a bill requiring that clinics that perform first trimester abortions meet the Board of Health regulations on hospitals, which are far more stringent than the regulations on physician’s offices. The Virginia Senate and House voted to pass the bill in February.
Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, stated, “This is a distressing day for the women of Virginia and their access to safe, affordable reproductive health care in the Commonwealth. Through a legally questionable and ethically indefensible political gimmick, Gov. McDonnell has pushed through legislation that may result in politically motivated regulations of first trimester abortion providers that have nothing to do with medicine and everything to do with the legislature and governor’s personal ideology.”
The new regulations may cause as many as 17 of the state’s 21 women’s health clinics that perform abortions and provide necessary women’s reproductive health services, such as STI testing, cancer screenings, and family planning, to shut down as a result of the cost to implement the required changes. These regulations will significantly and unnecessarily increase the cost of early abortions and will make it more difficult to get an abortion in Virginia. Reproductive rights groups, including the Feminist Majority, the National Organization for Women, and the American Civil Liberties Union oppose the law, which restricts women’s access to reproductive health services.