The Virginia Board of Health met this morning and the future of Virginia’s abortion clinics was on the line.
The rules enacted by former governor Bob McDonnell required the state’s 18 abortion clinics to update facilities to architecturally match hospitals and inpatient treatment centers. The regulations were so burdensome, some clinics said they would have to close their doors due to the high cost of renovations.
Current Gov McAuliffe appointed former senator Mary Margaret Whipple (D -Arlington) to the board recently, and has supported rolling back the regulations.
Whipple, the former chair of the senate’s Democratic caucus, told the Washington Post the process of removing the regulations would not be easy and quick. She left the senate just after they voted to change standards for clinics, despite comments from the medical community saying the renovations were medically unnecessary.
“I really feel that it is better to let the medical profession practice medicine than have the legislature practicing medicine,” she told the Post.
Earlier this fall Virginia’s Commissioner of Health Marissa Levine recommended amending the new requirements to the state’s board of Health ahead of their meeting today.
Levine, a McAuliffe appointee, was ‘outted’ as a transwoman by a Norfolk area conservative group in November of this year.
In addition to rolling back the physical requirements, Levine suggested changes to how drugs were dispensed, the use of anesthesia, and other changes.
A campaign promise from McAuliffe, altering the abortion clinic regulations really started earlier this year when the Governor replaced 15 members of the Board of Health.
“I strongly believe that women should be able to make their own healthcare decisions without interference from Washington or Richmond,” said McAuliffe while on the campaign trail. “Divisive efforts by politicians to interfere with decisions better made by women and their doctors are bad for Virginia families and bad for business.”
Even if the board accepts Levine’s suggestions, it could take months to years to see the changes go into effect.
13 of Virginia’s 18 abortion clinics had requested waivers allowing them to stay open despite the regulation changes. According to the Washington Post, 12 waivers had been given, with one still under review. The rest said they were able to comply with the new architectural requirements.