On Friday, the Virginia State Board of Health reversed an earlier decision to exempt existing abortion clinics from a 2011 bill which enforces the same building requirements on these clinics as on hospitals. The 15-member board voted 13-2 in favor of reversing a “grandfather clause” approved in a 7-4 vote in June which would have exempted existing clinics from new and costly renovations in order to comply with the bill. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli had refused to certify the June approved exemption, and had warned board members regarding their legal liabilities if the exemption remained. As a result of the decision reversal, existing abortion clinics will be responsible for physical plant requirements such as hands-free faucets and corridor dimensions. Such regulations could put some clinics in danger of closing their doors, according to operators.
While the Attorney General’s engagement with the State Board of Health in the decision process clearly merits attention, the decision reversal should also serve as an opportunity to consider whether it is necessary for abortion clinics to meet new building requirements designed for hospitals. [Read more...]