Controversial Va. abortion regulations could be changed Monday

Photo Courtesy: Virginia Department of Health/Twitter
Photo Courtesy: Virginia Department of Health/Twitter

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – More than three years after former Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) approved controversial building codes and restrictions on Virginia abortion clinics, state officials are now prepared to reverse or revise numerous regulations next week.

The Virginia Board of Health will vote Oct. 24 on dozens of amendments to the 2013 abortion restrictions, with new board members appointed by Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe expected to alter the regulations.

Since McAuliffe took office in 2014, the governor has made enough appointments to the board, all but assuring changes to the conservative rules. After a vote Monday, the new provisions will be reviewed in a 30-day public comment period, and then signed into law by McAuliffe.

“If you say that a restriction is being put in place because it improves women’s health, you have to prove it,” said Gail Deady of the Virginia ACLU in an interview Friday. “That’s what the Supreme Court of the United States has said.”

In a June 5-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down provisions of a Texas law, ruling that restrictions on abortion clinics must have proven health benefits. The law required doctors who perform abortions to be admitted at local hospitals, and Texas clinics to conform to hospital building codes.

Virginia law holds similar facets, including mandates that abortion clinics must follow many of the same construction standards as hospitals.

“Only one area of the amendments deals with the architectural changes,” said Chris Freund of the Family Foundation. “Over a dozen deal with health and safety standards.”

Members of the public are welcome to attend the Monday meeting at the Four Points By Sheraton, 4700 South Laburnum Avenue, Richmond, VA. Doors open at 7:30 a.m. with the proceedings beginning at 9 a.m. The agenda can be viewed by clicking here.