Board of health delays vote on abortion clinics

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Dozens of pro-choice advocates lined up Thursday as the State Board of Heath was supposed to vote on abortion clinic regulations, but that decision was delayed as the board faced the threat of legal action.

“Some mistakes were made at the staff level within the department,” explained Joseph Hilbert with the department.

A public document posted in August said the board approved amendments removing hospital-like standards from abortion clinics on September 15, a month before Thursday’s meeting. In addition, hundreds of pro-life public comments were not delivered to board members.

Chris Freund with The Family Foundation

“The fix is in, and that’s very disconcerting for us and we believe has been quite illegal,” said Chris Freund with The Family Foundation.

The board says it’s reviewing how the mistake was made.

“And then making sure that we put the appropriate reforms in place, changes in place to make that sort of thing doesn’t happen again,” said Hilbert.

Meanwhile, pro-choice advocates expressed concerns over current hospital-like regulations.

Dr. Marilyn Jerome.

“It puts a huge burden on doctors to try and find health care providers and facilities that can do pregnancy terminations,” said Dr. Marilyn Jerome.

Jerome and other advocates believe a U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down a similar law in Texas this year, makes the state’s current standards illegal.

“These kinds of laws actually don’t do anything to further women’s health and safety, shudder clinics, and make health care more dangerous for women to access,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, who won in that Supreme Court decision.

“Texas didn’t grant variances. Virginia does so our law is different,” said Freund.

The board will decide on a date for a special session to vote on whether current regulations will be removed or stay in place. That special session will happen before their next scheduled meeting on  December 1.

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