Virginia Health Commissioner Dr. Karen Remley resigned from her position on Thursday, citing targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws approved in late September as the primary reason for her resignation.
These TRAP laws were designed to force existing abortion clinics to meet the same building codes as new hospitals. 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. Virginia Attorney General Ken 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.
In her resignation letter, Remley wrote: "Unfortunately, how specific sections of the Virginia Code pertaining to the development and enforcement of these regulations have been and continue to be interpreted has created an environment in which my ability to fulfill my duties is compromised and in good faith I can no longer serve in my role."
Remley was appointed by former Governor and current Senate candidate Tim Kaine (D) and remained in her position under Gov. Bob McDonnell (R). During a debate last night Kaine spoke about Remley's recently announced resignation, stating, "It's unfortunate that a political focus on limiting women's access to health care has prompted her resignation after many years of diligent and faithful service to the Commonwealth, but I know Karen has many years of service still ahead of her."
Media Resources: Feminist Daily Newswire 9/27/12; Washington Post 10/18/12; Think Progress 10/18/12