The Family Foundation of Virginia said Monday that it is asking supporters to back new regulations released Friday for Virginia’s abortion clinics.
The 26-page draft includes specific physical requirements for facilities, allows inspectors to make unannounced visits and mandates that hospitals provide emergency care.
Chris Freund, the group’s vice president, said the regulations “would sufficiently improve the health and safety of Virginia’s abortion centers.’’
“Despite knee-jerk accusations by the abortion industry that the regulations go too far, we believe that standards providing for regular inspections, requiring that the doctor stay on premises until women are actually ready to be discharged, and having emergency equipment on site seem wholly reasonable,’’ Freund said. “If these regulations threaten Virginia’s abortion centers, one has to wonder just how bad things have been.”
Abortion-rights organizations oppose the regulations, saying they are a way to shut down many of the state’s 22 clinics that perform abortions. The new requirements are based on dozens of pages of guidelines for health-care facilities published by the Facility Guidelines Institute, a nonprofit group. They specify size of exam rooms (minimum “clear floor area of 80 feet”), public corridors that are a minimum width of 5 feet, and minimum ceiling heights of 7 feet 10 inches.
Freund said the regulations are similar to those in other states that have been found to be constitutional, and that clinics may seek waivers from some construction requirements.
The 15-member Board of Health, which has a majority appointed by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R), is scheduled to vote on the rules Sept. 15. McDonnell must sign off on the regulations before they go into effect Dec. 31.