Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell certified new abortion regulations known as TRAP (targeted regulations of abortion providers) laws on Friday, December 28th. There will be a 60-day public comment period before a final vote by the Virginia Board of Health, likely in March.
These TRAP laws were designed to force existing abortion clinics to meet the same building codes as new hospitals. If enacted, the new regulations would require existing clinics to come into compliance with the regulations within two years or face closure. In September 2012, the Virginia Board of Health voted 13-2 to reverse their previous decision to grandfather in existing clinics, thus exempting them from new, hospital-like restrictions.
The board’s reversal on grandfathering in existing clinics came after Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli refused to accept the grandfather provision and asserted the board did not have the authority to amend the regulations by adding the provision. Cuccinelli also released a memo in September 2012 threatening Board of Health members by stating that they would not be able to receive state legal counsel if they disregarded his recommendations.
In response to Governor McDonnell’s certification of the TRAP laws, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia Executive Director Tarina Keene, said in an email statement, “After two years of shocking backroom deals and bullying public health servants, Governor Bob McDonnell is clearly proving his disregard of Virginians’ opinions about women’s health care…Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and McDonnell are clearly pushing an ideological agenda that is out of touch with the residents of this state – they have been using elected office to play political games with the health of women, and they may succeed in passing some of the most extreme state abortion laws in the country while ignoring the will of Virginians.”
Virginia Health Commissioner Dr. Karen Remley resigned from her position in October 2012, citing targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws approved in late September as the primary reason for her resignation.