Virginia’s Abortion Clinics Renew Licenses Amidst Regulation Dispute

The Virginia Board of Health announced last week that all 18 abortion clinics in the state have renewed their licenses, despite anti-abortion efforts to place limitations on Virginia clinics.

via Urgent Action Fund

Virginia has issued a number of Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws and regulations over the past few years, causing 13 of the state’s 18 abortion clinics to fall under regulating violations. The Board of Health announced last week that all of the 18 clinics would nevertheless receive their licenses, as the violations did not have to do with patients’ health.

During the 2013-2014 regulation period, Virginia inspectors conducted strict reviews of the state’s abortion clinics, giving out demerits for minor administrative deficiencies, like not collecting or filing paperwork properly. As the Editorial Board of the Washington Post pointed out, “the violations that officials did find at the clinics were much less severe than those identified in the state’s nursing homes.”

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe ordered the state Board of Health to review TRAP laws last year, calling them “extreme and punitive.” Virginia Commissioner of Health Dr. Marissa Levine, upon reviewing the laws, explained that she did not feel she had authority to repeal the law, and instead recommended amendments. She called the clinic rules “arbitrary” and “marked by political interference.” In December of last year, the Board voted 13-2 to begin to revise several of the more onerous abortion clinic regulations.

Tarina Kaine, Executive Director of NARAL-Pro Choice Virginia, wrote that it was clear that abortion clinics were being disproportionately targeted by these new regulations. “Never in the history of Virginia has an existing facility – be it a hospital, doctor’s office, restaurant, or hotel – been forced to retroactively comply with new construction regulations,” Kaine wrote.

Proponents of the regulations argue that abortion clinics pose threats to patients at such a level that they should be regulated like hospitals, requiring costly changes to the buildings’ structures like creating wider hallways. The evidence, however, shows that in the over 50,000 abortions in two years in Virginia, there has not a single instance of physical harm to a patient.

Media Resources: National Partnership 6/8/15; 12/5/14; Feminist Newswire 5/13/14; 10/2/14; Washington Post 6/6/15; PilotOnline 6/7/15;

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