By Meaghan K. Pedati, Law Student
In July, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli refused to certify a new abortion clinic regulation. The new regulation, passed by the Virginia Board of Health, struck down a provision that would have required clinics to meet the same building standards as new hospital construction. The provision would have required changes in clinic equipment, specific staffing requirements and inspections by state officials. AG Cuccinelli sent a memo to the Health Commissioner arguing that the board exceeded its authority by striking down the provision. Next week the issue will be revisited. If the provision survives it could affect many of Virginia’s 20 abortion clinics.
Abortion right advocates claim the provision is too costly and would force many abortion clinics to close because they do not have the finances to comply with the standards. On September 14th the regulations will be reconsidered by the Board of Health. Pro-life and abortion advocates are expected to gather for demonstrations. The Family Foundation of Virginia is working hard to find pro-life support. The president of Family Foundation of Virginia, Victoria Cobb, told supporters, “We need to mobilize hundreds of pro-life Virginians at this meeting to show the Board of Health, the media, elected officials, and the electorate that we are pro-life, we are passionate, and we are the majority.” When the regulation was first considered, abortion supporters had a large demonstration which Ms. Cobb is trying to avoid, or counteract, with pro-life supporters.
The abortion supporters are also asking that Dr. John Seeds, who sits on the Board, recuse himself from voting on the regulation. Dr. Seeds is an anti-abortion obstetrician/gynecologist and senior associate dean of the VCU School of Medicine. Shelley Abrams, executive director at A Capital Women’s Health Clinic, does not believe Dr. Seeds will make a “science-based” decision. At this time, Dr. Seeds has no plans of recusing himself and plans to seriously consider AG Cuccinelli’s recommendation on the matter.