Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell certified new abortion regulations known as TRAP (targeted regulations of abortion providers) laws on Friday, December 28th. There will be a 60-day public comment period before a final vote by the Virginia Board of Health, likely in March.
These TRAP laws were designed to force existing abortion clinics to meet the same building codes as new hospitals. If enacted, the new regulations would require existing clinics to come into compliance with the regulations within two years or face closure. In September 2012, the Virginia Board of Health voted 13-2 to reverse their previous decision to grandfather in existing clinics, thus exempting them from new, hospital-like restrictions.
The board's reversal on grandfathering in existing clinics came after Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli refused to accept the grandfather provision and asserted the board did not have the authority to amend the regulations by adding the provision. Cuccinelli also released a memo in September 2012 threatening Board of Health members by stating that they would not be able to receive state legal counsel if they disregarded his recommendations.
In response to Governor McDonnell's certification of the TRAP laws, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia Executive Director Tarina Keene, said in an email statement, "After two years of shocking backroom deals and bullying public health servants, Governor Bob McDonnell is clearly proving his disregard of Virginians' opinions about women's health care...Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and McDonnell are clearly pushing an ideological agenda that is out of touch with the residents of this state - they have been using elected office to play political games with the health of women, and they may succeed in passing some of the most extreme state abortion laws in the country while ignoring the will of Virginians."
Virginia Health Commissioner Dr. Karen Remley resigned from her position in October 2012, citing targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws approved in late September as the primary reason for her resignation.
Media Resources: Washington Post 12/31/2012; RH Reality Check 1/1/2013; Feminist Daily Newswire 10/19/2012
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .