The Virginia Senate voted yesterday to pass a bill (SB 924) 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 20-20 tie was broken in the Democratic state Senate by an unusual vote from Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling (R). The House voted in favor of the bill on Monday. Republican Governor Bob McDonnell announced that he will sign the bill.
These regulations will significantly and unnecessarily increase the cost of early abortions and will make it difficult to get an abortion in Virginia. The costs of implementing the required changes could cause as many as 17 of the state’s 21 abortion clinics to shut down.
Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, stated,”[The bill] represents a shameful level of political interference in the doctor-patient relationship. The politicians behind this plan falsely claim they are protecting women’s health, yet their ultimate goal is to make it even more difficult for women to access abortion care in Virginia.”
Reproductive rights groups, including the Feminist Majority, the National Organization for Women, and the American Civil Liberties Union oppose the bill, which would impose unnecessary and onerous regulations on abortion providers and restrict women’s access to reproductive health services.