NOVA Women’s Healthcare was in an office building on Eaton Place, just off Route 123 near Interstate 66, since 2006. Antiabortion protesters stood outside the building daily, the clinic was sued twice in the past three years by its landlord, and it likely faced a need to upgrade or move after Virginia changed its regulations to require abortion providers to have hospital-grade facilities.
After finding a possible alternative space in March, the clinic applied for a nonresidential use permit to retrofit that space in another office building. But the permit was denied in May because officials decided parking at the building was not adequate, zoning administrator Michelle Coleman said.
NOVA chose not to seek a special exception to the parking rules from the city council, Coleman said.
The Fairfax City Council then became aware of the clinic’s attempt to relocate. On Tuesday, the council amended its zoning ordinance to require that all clinics, henceforward to be called medical care facilities, obtain a special-use permit and approval from the council. Previously, clinics were treated the same as doctor’s offices and were not required to go through the city council.
A woman who answered the phone at NOVA Women’s Healthcare said it was closed and, as a policy, staff do not speak to the media. All traces of the clinic are gone from the Eaton Place building, and court records in Fairfax indicate the clinic agreed to relinquish its space in mid-June. Attorney Anthony M. Shore, who represented the clinic in a lawsuit filed by the building’s owner, declined to comment.
Alena Yarmosky, a spokeswoman for NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, said NOVA “was trying to relocate because they couldn’t stay where they were, because of the new regulations. . . . The fact they were forced to move, that’s a testament to the barriers these providers face.”
In 2012, NOVA performed 3,066 “induced terminations of pregnancy” according to the Virginia Department of Health, and 3,567 in 2011, by far the most in any facility in the state each of those years. Court records show NOVA was owned by Mi Yong Kim, who then sold half of her interest last year to Taehyun Kim.
Advocates on both sides of the abortion debate pointed to the closure to shore up their positions.
The shutting of NOVA is “huge,” said Troy Newman of the antiabortion group Operation Rescue, which helped stage protests outside NOVA. “Our focus has always been on the local level. In the last 15 years, we’ve closed 71 percent of all the abortion clinics in the nation.” He said the number of clinics in the United States had dropped from 2,176 in 1991 to 625 today.
Newman said Operation Rescue monitors health and safety problems associated with abortion clinics “and tell people about them. We want to see these abortionists maintain hospital privileges,” for when procedures go awry. “Let’s look at these places like what they really are, surgical facilities providing surgical procedures.”