Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Virgnia's Attorney General Has a New Way For the State to Limit Choice

Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s anti-choice Attorney General, has issued an opinion that would allow the state to classify abortion clinics as ambulatory surgery centers, essentially applying hospital style regulations (commonly known as TRAP regulations) for one of the safest medical procedures provided in the United States.  To comply, clinics would have to make significant changes to their sites and protocols at a huge expense.  Enactment of such onerous, unjustified regulations could force 17 of the state’s 21 clinics to close.  Currently only 57 percent of Virginian women have an abortion provider in their county, a number that would plummet if 17 clinics were to close.  

Cuccinelli tried to enact stronger regulations when he was a legislator.  The Virginia legislature has rejected these attempts in the past and now Cuccinelli is using his position as Attorney General to, in the words of Del. David L. Englin (D-Alexandria), “do an end run around the General Assembly.”  

Those who want to impose stricter regulations claim that they are concerned for the health of women.  However, abortion clinics are already regulated by the state of Virginia.  They follow the same safety guidelines as plastic surgery centers and doctor’s offices.  Less than one third of one percent of all abortions result in a serious complication.  It is an extremely safe and simple procedure. This move is a thinly veiled attempt to limit abortion under the guise of protecting women.  Abortion is a part of reproductive health care.  Limiting access only endangers women’s health. 
 
While the opinion opens the door for more regulation of abortion providers, permanent changes to their classification require the approval of Board of Health.  Eleven of its members were appointed by former Governor Tim Kaine, a Democrat.   Hopefully, if the matter comes before the Board, they will recognize this opinion for what it is and reject this attempt to further limit women's ability to make their own choices about their health reproductive care.  

Here's what Rachel Maddow's excellent take on what's happening in Virginia.

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