The Virginia State Board of Health voted just this morning to adopt stricter building regulations for abortion clinics. These new regulations are designed to – you guessed it – force the clinics to close as it is virtually impossible to comply with the new standards in the time frame allowed.
This is the new front of the abortion battles – anti choice lawmakers pushing through legislation with absurd building requirements so as to force abortion clinics to close when they can’t comply. It’s not just in Virginia, either. Three days ago, Alabama’s Governor Robert Bentley signed a TRAP bill (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) requiring these clinics to have such things as wider hallways and bigger parking lots, as well as be staffed only by doctors who have admitting privileges at local hospitals. (For what it’s worth, these restrictions are so severe that even most hospitals would not be able to obey the regulations.) Mississippi is another state whose TRAP law makes such strict requirements.
But back to Virginia. Where do all these laws come from? In Virginia’s case (which as I mentioned is just the latest state to pull this trick), it can be traced to Ken Cuccinelli. If you’re not familiar with him, if his name doesn’t roll off your tongue (as you sport a look of total disgust of course), practice saying it a few times. Because if you don’t start paying close attention to him, he’s going to be Virginia’s next Governor. And he’s going to bring the 1950s back with him.
This is pretty much what we mean when we talk about “extreme” – extreme abortion restrictions and extreme politicians. “Extreme” should really be Ken Cuccinelli’s middle name as far as the pro-choice advocacy community should be concerned. Because it goes much farther than his recent efforts to overturn a court’s decision deeming the Virginia’s anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional.
Let’s just take a quick look at some of his choiciest anti-choice sentiments:
Here’s a sample of what he thinks about women’s decision-making capabilities when it comes to their own bodies:
Here he is bragging about trying to deny women access to basic health services:
And my ultimate favorite: here he is comparing the fight to combat abortion with the fight to end slavery.
Yes you read that right -SLAVERY.
And so we see where we are – a man who thinks the Catholic church is too dependent on government, who thinks there’s no such as thing as safe homosexual sex, and who is proud of his efforts to deny medical procedures to women in need. And make no mistake, he’s been making his mark on Virginia.
The majority of the members on the 15 person VA Board of Health were appointed by Governor Bob McDonnell, another gem in the anti-choice movement’s roster of politicians who just want to “protect women.” However, even these members thought the call for new restrictions was too much, and they tried to amend the regulations by grandfathering existing clinics from the new building requirements. Here’s what the Richmond Times Dispatch reports happened next:
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli refused to certify the regulations saying the board lacked the authority to make a change that in the attorney general’s view was inconsistent with the original law. The memo from Cuccinelli’s office also suggested that board members might not qualify for representation from the office if they deviated from the legal advice that had been offered.
I’ll give you one guess as to whether the Board members stood their ground (hint: the answer is no). Luckily, there was at least one Virginia government official who took a stand here – Karen Remley, the Health Commissioner (in case you’re wondering, appointed by pro choice advocate Tim Kaine, current VA Senator and former VA Governor). For Commissioner Remley however, it wasn’t just about standing up for women. She ended up resigning her position over the issue, declaring that the regulations had “created an environment in which [my] ability to fulfill [my] duties is compromised.”
Duties such as promoting the public interest? Protecting the public’s health? Yes, I agree, Ken Cuccinelli’s involvement does seem to bring about an inability to do that job.
Now that the Board of Health has voted to adopt the regulations, they will again return to Ken Cuccinelli and Governor Bob McDonnell for final review. And we can add yet another state to the list.