RICHMOND | Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II on Wednesday certified abortion clinic regulations that were altered earlier this month at his urging to include strict building standards that abortion-rights supporters say are aimed at closing down the centers.
Mr. Cuccinelli’s office sent notice to state health officials that it certified that the state Board of Health acted within its authority and that the proposed regulations are constitutional and do not conflict with existing laws or regulations.
Earlier this year the board backed clinic rules that exempted the state’s 20 existing clinics from the new standards, which call for the clinics to meet the same architectural standards as new hospitals on issues ranging from doorway widths to room sizes. Mr. Cuccinelli, an anti-abortion Republican, warned the board that they were out of line and that his office would not represent the board it if was sued over the regulations.
On Sept. 14, the board backtracked and voted 13-2 to include all facilities.
If Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican who supports the stricter regulations, approves them, they’ll be posted for public comment for 60 days before returning to the board for final consideration.
Abortion opponents claim the regulations will improve health and safety at medical facilities that have long operated without oversight. Abortion-rights supporters claim the strict regulations could cause some clinics to shut their doors.
State Health Commissioner Karen Remley told the board that all of the state’s abortion clinics have already been inspected, and none have indicated they intend to close. Eleven have been licensed after submitting plans to correct deficiencies, while corrective plans for others are pending.