Va. Health Dept. releases proposal of regulations for abortion clinics

June 2, 2012

The Virginia Health Department has released its proposed regulations governing abortion clinics — rules that opponents say could put the clinics out of business.

Emergency regulations have been in effect since Jan. 1. The state Board of Health will vote on the permanent regulations June 15.

The proposed regulations are similar to the emergency regulations, which are considered some of the toughest in the country. They regulate the size of exam rooms and hallways and the number of parking spaces; and address requirements for inspections, medical procedures and record-keeping.

Erik Bodin, of the department’s licensure and certification office, said some changes were made to conform to recent amendments to the informed-consent abortion law and to ensure that clinic employees who are legally mandated to report suspected child abuse comply with those requirements.

Abortion-rights supporters continue to oppose the regulations, which they say would impose architectural and other building-code requirements ­that would force some clinics to close.

The Virginia Coalition to Protect Women’s Health has urged opponents to sign petitions and contact Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R).

The emergency regulations went into effect Dec. 31 after approval by McDonnell.

While regulatory changes by the Board of Health can take up to two years to implement, state officials rushed to adopt the new rules after the General Assembly voted last spring to mandate that they be written no more than 280 days after a bill was signed into law.

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