Virginia House Approves Bill Tightening Regulations on Abortion Businesses

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 31, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Virginia House Approves Bill Tightening Regulations on Abortion Businesses

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 31, 2005

Richmond, VA ( — The Virginia House of Delegates gave initial approval to legislation that brings abortion businesses in line with the health and safety requirements surgical facilities must meet. Meanwhile, a committee backed a bill that would require abortion centers to tell women that their unborn children feel pain in a late-term abortion.

Under the regulation bill, put forward by pro-life Delegate Jack Reid, any business that performs more than 25 abortions per year must meet the same health and safety standards as ambulatory surgery centers.

Currently, abortion facilities are considered in the same classification as a doctor’s office and are not subject to state inspections.

Pro-life lawmakers say the change is needed because surgical procedures are being performed at abortion facilities that are not done at a doctor’s office.

Reid, a Republican from Henrico, told the Associated Press, "If we are in fact going to have legal abortions in the state of Virginia we have a responsibility to see that they are performed in as sterile and as safe an environment as possible, and that is the intent of this legislation."

Abortion advocates oppose the bill and contend that many of the abortion facilities in Virginia would have to close if it becomes law due to the extensive and costly remodeling necessary to meet requirements.

Last year, Delegate Robert Marshall estimated that 18 of the 20 abortion centers in Virginia would fail to meet the new standards unless they made improvements to their facilities.

"Back-alley clinics have moved to Main Street with the permission of the state government," said Marshall. "This bill establishes standards."

Lawmakers in the state House approved the bill on a voice vote and a final vote is expected Tuesday. The legislation then moves to the state Senate for consideration.

The House has passed the bill two years in a row, approving it 69-28 last year, only to have a state Senate committee kill the legislation.

Meanwhile, the House Courts of Justice Committee approved a measure requiring abortion practitioners to tell women considering an abortion 20 weeks or more into the pregnancy that the procedure will cause the unborn child severe pain.

The mother may also choose to have anesthesia administered to the baby prior to the abortion.

Pro-life groups hope the bill will educate the general public about fetal pain during an abortion and help women seek abortion alternatives. A similar measure was approved by the state House last year, but died in the Senate.

The bills are H.B. 2784 and H.B. 1524.

Related web sites:
Virginia State Legislature –