Guest-posting at, Americans United for Life’s Dan McConchie wrote of the dramatic passage in the Virginia General Assembly last week of the toughest bill to date in the US regulating clinics that commit first trimester abortions.

Backstory: For years pro-life legislation had been been killed in the VA legislature….

And then there was this week….

On Monday, a rather routine bill came from the VA Senate over to the House with a vote of 40-0. Senate Bill 924 would require the Board of Health to promulgate regulations containing minimum standards for policies related to infection prevention, disaster preparedness, and facility security of hospitals, nursing homes, and certified nursing facilities. Delegate Kathy Byron had an idea. She offered an amendment in the House that added abortion clinics to the list of facilities to be considered as “hospitals” for the setting up of these standards. The amendment passed 63-34.

The bill was then sent back over to the Senate where its future was in doubt…. When it came time to vote, the VA Senate this time voted 20-20 on the bill. Twenty senators changed their vote because they did NOT want to require abortion clinics to meet the same standards as other medical facilities. That is amazing. Pro-abortion legislators continue to vote against basic health and safety rules of abortion clinics, even as abuses such as Kermit Gosnell’s ‘house of horrors’ come to light.

Thankfully, VA’s Lt. Gov., Bill Bolling is pro-life. As the head of the senate, he casts a vote when there is a tie. He voted to pass the bill.

Immediately, Gov. Bob McDonnell enthusiastically indicated his willingness to sign the new bill into law. Even Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli sent out an email to constituents praising the bill’s passage.

Now pro-aborts are claiming

I’m not sure this is a good selling point to rederegulate VA abortion mills, but this is their angle. IMO, claiming regulations will shut down most of their chop shops just adds to the growing national thought that abortion mills are deficient. At any rate, despite their fear-mongering, abortion clinics appear more prepared than they’re letting on. According to the Washington Post:

Virginia abortion clinics believe a new state law requiring them to meet hospital standards could force some to close, even though several newly-built clinics are designed to meet structural and architectural standards hospitals.

The General Assembly last week approved legislation requiring all offices, clinics and centers that perform first-trimester abortions to be regulated as hospitals, which advocates on either side of the issue think may be the strictest requirement in the country.

Several states already require abortion clinics that do second-trimester abortions be regulated as hospitals, while VA’s law would apply to clinics that do first trimester procedures. Unlike many other states, VA law already requires second-trimester abortions be performed in hospitals….

A review of these hospital-type regulations by the American Journal of Public Health found that in Texas the number of abortion providers fell from 20 in 2003 before the regulations to four in 2007.

[Rosemary] Codding [founder of Falls Church Healthcare Center] said when watched as clinics across the country closed because they could not meet the hospital standards, she razed her clinic’s third floor office space and rebuilt it to meet then-state standards for a Class II hospital, or surgical center.

David Nova, who supervised building the new Planned Parenthood clinics in Roanoke and Charlottesville, said the hallways there and at 2 other Planned Parenthood clinics in Virginia Beach and Richmond are wide enough for 2 gurneys to pass, like in all hospitals. And the exam room is now a “cavernous” 16 by 18 feet.

The other side is apparently planning to sue, as usual. But this time there are pro-life stalwarts in the governor’s mansion and AG’s office. According to the Associated Press:

Democrats argued it wouldn’t pass constitutional muster because it would put an undue burden on poor women and those in rural areas, where clinics likely would close. They also argued it would violate the equal protection guarantees of the Constitution by treating abortions differently than similar procedures….

Laurence Tribe, professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School, said the bill would likely be deemed unconstitutional “because its transparent purpose and effect would be to make such early abortions far more difficult if not impossible for many women to obtain.”

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who supported similar legislation as a state senator, said he believes the law would be constitutional.

“For over 25 years, VA abortion clinics have not been held to minimal health and safety standards,” he said. “As a result, women who walk into these clinics are often not treated with the care and respect that any human being deserves.”

[Top graphic via Ms.]

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