Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli approved new regulations yesterday designed to force existing abortion clinics to meet the same building codes as new hospitals. The TRAP laws (targeted-regulations-of-abortion-providers) will now head to Governor Bob McDonnell for approval.
The Virginia Board of Health met on September 14th and voted 13-2 to reverse their June decision to grandfather in existing clinics, thus exempting them from new, hospital-like restrictions. Instead, the board is requiring existing clinics to come into compliance with regulations within two years or face closure. Cuccinelli refused to accept the June grandfather provision and asserted the board did not have the authority to amend the regulations. Cuccinelli also released a memo on September 12th, threatening Board of Health members by stating that they would not be able to receive state legal counsel if they disregarded his recommendations.
The September 14th hearing was packed with pro-choice and anti-choice advocates hoping to speak before the board. 80 people were allowed into the board room, while 50 watched the hearing in an overflow room. Some 200 people did not gain entrance, but demonstrated outside the building. After the Board reversed its decision, some pro-choice advocates walked out of the room, chanting "shame, shame, you don't care if women die."
After the governor approves the TRAP laws there will be a 60 day comment period after which the law will go back before the Board of Health for final approval. This lengthy process makes it difficult to challenge the law in court. Legal challenges are not possible until after the regulations have been implemented. It is expected that the regulations won't be in effect until next year.
Media Resources: Richmond Times Dispatch 9/27/12; Feminist Newswire 9/14/12