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Will Gov. McDonnell’s successor continue to erode reproductive rights?
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
The Virginia Board of Health’s approval of onerous building standards for abortion clinics was virtually guaranteed last September. Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli had threatened not to defend the board in court if members voted to exempt existing clinics from standards established for new hospitals.
The board’s 11-2 vote last Friday likely was a prelude to a lawsuit over regulations that would require nearly all of Virginia’s 20 abortion centers to make costly facility upgrades in order to continue providing abortion services. Since Cuccinelli cowed the board, his office now can defend it and the clinic regulations at the same time he is running for governor.
What better reminder that elections have consequences. Only 40 percent of Virginia’s registered voters went to the polls in 2009, when Republican Bob McDonnell was elected governor. McDonnell downplayed his social conservatism during the campaign, then became an enabler of government intrusion into women’s health care after assuming office.
McDonnell signed the 2011 law requiring the state to classify as hospitals all facilities that perform at least five first-trimester abortions a month. He also approved the 2012 law requiring women to submit to an ultrasound before having an abortion. If McDonnell signs off on the clinic regulations as expected, his hostility toward women’s reproductive rights will be as much a part of his legacy as this year’s hard-won victory on transportation funding.
The debate over the clinic regulations has generated sound and fury on both sides of the issue. But if the passion doesn’t translate into participation at the ballot box in 2013, the assault on women’s health care freedom will continue.
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