Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said he has not read the draft regulations for abortion clinics, released late Friday, but that the intent of the proposal is to look after women’s health, not to close the facilities.
“It’s in the interest of health,” McDonnell said on his monthly call-in show on WTOP radio in Washington.
State officials have been rushing to adopt emergency rules after the General Assembly voted this spring to mandate that the rules be written no more than 280 days after the bill was signed into law.
“There’s ample time for the public to be involved, to give us their input,’’ McDonnell said. “We’re just following what the General Assembly has passed, and that is these clinics be regulated as hospitals.”
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 the 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.
McDonnell, who opposes abortion rights, said he signed and supported the bill and that the regulations are not designed to close clinics.
“There will be some increased costs, and many of these providers obviously are for-profit entities and they will factor that into their costs,’’ he said.
The 15-member Board of Health, which has a majority appointed by McDonnell, is scheduled to vote on the rules Sept. 15. McDonnell must sign off on the regulations before they go into effect Dec. 31.