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VA House Advances Bill that Aims to Close Abortion Clinics

The Virginia House of Delegates gave voice approval to a bill that would require abortion clinics that provide more than 25 first-trimester abortions a year to undergo costly renovations in order to meet the same regulations imposed on ambulatory surgical centers. The aim of the bill is to force abortion clinics in the state to invest upwards of $1 million to renovate their buildings, leading to clinic closures in many areas, and to sharp increases in the cost of an abortion in the clinics that remain open, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Delegate Vivian Watts (D-Fairfax) said that the concern of the bill’s author, Delegate John Reid (R-Henrico), is not public health. If it was, Watts told the Associated Press, “then what we would be doing is licensing equally 80-100 procedures that are required under Medicaid to be performed on an outpatient basis.”

Virginia’s House of Delegates has passed similar legislation, referred to as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider (TRAP) bills, for the past two years, only to have the legislation die in the state Senate. According to the National Abortion Federation, 12 states considered TRAP legislation in 2004, with Mississippi enacting such a law.

Last July, Judge Tom Lee of the US District Court blocked enforcement of the Mississippi law that would have effectively made second trimester abortions unavailable in the state. The court injunction came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which is now the only clinic in Mississippi that performs abortions. The law would have required that abortions after the 12th week of gestation be performed in hospitals or outpatient surgical facilities that meet certain facility requirements.

DONATE to the Feminist Majority Foundation – Half of your donation will go to the Jackson Women’s Health Organization to help poor women obtain abortions, and half will go to FMF’s clinic defense program to keep abortion clinics safe and open

Sources:

Associated Press 1/31/05; Richmond Times-Dispatch 2/1/05; Washington Post 2/1/05; NAF State Legislative Report 2004