RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — In the past three years since the state board of health approved hospital-like regulations for abortion clinics across Virginia, a third of those clinics have shut down. But the board on Monday amended those regulations and removed those standards which pro-life advocates argue were put in place to protect women. They say clinics across the state have had hundreds of violations that have been found in light of stricter standards.
“That includes bloody equipment, blood on the tables, drugs being transported between clinics with no oversight. Doctors that have been caught without their medical licenses. None of this is even being discussed,” said Victoria Cobb with The Family Foundation.
Cobb says the move to amend regulations was purely political.
“When you have a governor who’s taken millions of dollars from the abortion industry when he campaigned, what you see is that he’s bought this board,” Cobb said.
During a 60 day public comment period, 5,795 individuals commented. 5,210 were in support of the amendments, while 585 were opposed. On Monday, dozens had one more chance to voice their opinions.
Monday’s vote comes months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that similar regulations in Texas were medically unnecessary, unconstitutional and limited a woman’s right to an abortion.
“They are not apples to apples. Texas still has strong safety standards. There are only a couple of things that were struck down with that decision and those things are not in Virginia’s standards,” Cobb said.
“The use of the whole woman’s health decision is really powerful in the hearing today,” added Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Women’s Health and the plaintiff in that Supreme Court Case.
Hagstrom Miller says Texas’ regulations aren’t any different than Virginia’s.
“In Virginia, the things like parking spaces, and covered awnings and janitors closets have nothing to do with improving women’s safety,” Miller said.
She says the current regulations are medically unnecessary.
“These do nothing to prevent unplanned pregnancy, they’re just restricting women’s access to obtaining good care in their communities,” said Hagstrom Miller.
While the board of health approved those amendments, the process is far from over. Amendments will still have to be reviewed by the attorney general, other state officials and eventually the governor before becoming effective.