On Thursday, Gov. Bob McDonnell signed his approval of the Board of Health's stricter "emergency" regulations for abortion clinics in Virginia. The new standards take effect Jan. 1, 2012, for one year or up to 18 months until new regulations are formulated.
Diana Egozcue, President of the Virginia Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW), reacted to the news:
(The Associated Press reports that Gov. Robert "Bob" McDonnell approved onerous, medically unnecessary emergency regulations for women's clinics in Virginia that could undermine women's access to abortion and other reproductive health care services. The regulations require existing clinics to meet the same strict building standards as new hospital construction.)
"On behalf of the women of Virginia, Virginia NOW denounces the politically motivated regulations signed today by Governor McDonnell. The governor and Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli have not fooled anyone by claiming that these regulations are needed to protect the health and safety of women. Virginia clinics have an excellent record of providing high-quality, safe services. It is incomprehensible that these burdensome regulations have any purpose other than to make it more difficult to obtain a first-trimester abortion in Virginia and ultimately to shut down clinics.
The politicization of this entire process is disgraceful. One of the medical experts who advised state health officials on these regulations was told that existing clinics could be "grandfathered in" and would not be held to standards that were not in place when they opened. However, Attorney General Cuccinelli rewrote the regulations formulated by the medical experts and then the governor stacked the Board of Health membership with appointees who would ensure the rewritten regulations were passed. Add to that the intimidation by the office of the attorney general during the Board of Health vote on the regulations and you have a process that is disrespectful to all Virginians.
We assure you, Governor McDonnell and Attorney General Cuccinelli, the women of Virginia have watched this charade. You say you are trying to protect women, but these regulations are not protection. They are harmful to women's health and show that in Virginia, women are still considered property especially during pregnancy.
Virginia NOW condemns the actions of the governor and attorney general and will work with our allies to protect women's clinics in Virginia and to protect women's health and lives."
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