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Virginia Politics
Posted at 01:53 PM ET, 09/13/2012

Virginia health board reverses its decision on abortion-clinic rules

Virginia’s Board of Health reversed its June ruling and decided on Friday not to exempt existing abortion clinics from strict hospital-style building codes.


Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli talks about the Supreme Court decision on the health-care law during a news conference June 28 in Richmond, Va. (Steve Helber - AP)

The board voted 13-2 to adopt regulations without grandfathering clinics.

In a surprise move in June when only 11 members were present, the board voted 7-4 to grandfather existing clinics.

The reversal came after Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II wrote to board members suggesting that if they did not heed his advice against grandfathering, his office would not defend them in any resulting litigation, and that they could be personally on the hook for legal bills.

Abortion-rights activists shouted “Shame! Shame! Shame!” once the vote was taken, and were ordered out of the board room in a suburban office park in Henrico County.

After one the most contentious debates of the 2011 General Assembly session, legislators voted to regulate abortion clinics like outpatient surgical centers. State officials quickly wrote emergency regulations dictating such things as the size of exam rooms and the storage of patient records.

In June, the Board of Health had been expected to pass permanent regulations that were substantially the same as the emergency rules. It did so, but with an amendment partially grandfathering in existing clinics.

If that decision were to stand, clinics would still have to submit to some aspects of the regulations, including those requiring more extensive record keeping. But they would not have to make renovations such as widening hallways and doorways, or installing drinking fountains and telephones in waiting rooms. Many clinics have said those costly renovations could force them to close.

By  |  01:53 PM ET, 09/13/2012

 
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