New abortion regulations on McDonnell’s desk

New state rules that would regulate abortion clinics like hospitals have landed on Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s desk, awaiting his signature.

Having cleared two commonwealth departments -- Planning and Budget and Health and Human Resources — the regulations only need McDonnell’s signature to take effect Dec. 31.

If approved by McDonnell, the regulations would treat abortion clinics as ambulatory surgery centers. They would have to meet hospital-type standards mandating the size of exam rooms and the width of hallways. They also would establish new requirements for inspections, medical procedures and record-keeping.

Antiabortion advocates say the changes will make the clinics, now treated like doctor’s offices, safer for women.

Abortion-clinic operators say the regulations, approved in September by the Virginia Board of Health, could shut down many of the state’s clinics.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia urged people opposed to the measure to sign an online petition and to contact the governor through its Web site..

Laura Vozzella covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.

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