State Board of Health Discusses Abortion Clinic Regulations

Oct 24, 2016

Pro-choice advocates in Virginia are celebrating today —the State Board of Health has voted to remove targeted regulations on abortion clinics.  In an 8 hour meeting today the board worked its way through dozens of amendments to regulations affecting clinics. In the end, they decided to roll back building codes and other restrictions that had been approved by former Governor Bob McDonnell 5 years ago. Since being passed, 7 clinics throughout the state have closed down. 

Abortion opponents and pro-choice advocates crowded a hotel conference room in an office park outside Richmond, Monday morning.

In front of the full state board of health, speakers had 2 minutes to deliver testimony in favor of, or against the regulations before board members got to work making changes. 

Some doctors -- like OBGYN Margaret Walsh -- said the regulations were necessary for abortion patients.  

"And so those people can end up a week or two or sometimes even later with severe complications of infections or bleeding because the procedure wasn't done properly to begin with." 

Many more healthcare providers, though, pointed out that rules affecting the width of hallways, number of parking spaces, and size of janitorial closets had little to do with women's safety. 

Credit Virginia Department of Health

Serena Floyd is an OBYGN and the medical director for Planned Parenthood in DC and Northern Virginia. She told the Board that such regulations don't make abortions, a procedure that already has a less than 1-percent complication rate, any safer.  

"It limits access to other very much needed services for women who are some of the most marginalized women in our community."

The Board is re-examining the regulations now after the U.S. Supreme Court declared similar rules in Texas unconstitutional.