Virginia Attorney General: More Limits Can be Placed on Abortion Businesses
by Steven Ertelt
August 23, 2010
Richmond, VA (LifeNews.com) — The Virginia state attorney general issued an opinion today hailed by pro-life advocates because he says more limits can be placed on abortion businesses in Virginia. That means they can be held accountable for not following health and safety standards and could be closed as a result.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issued an opinion late Friday providing legal guidance for the state Board of Health.
Noting that Roe v. Wade allows still allows virtually unlimited legal abortions, the attorney general said the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision allowing limits in other states makes it so Virginia limits would likely be seen as constitutional.
He said "the Commonwealth has the authority to promulgate regulations for facilities in which first trimester abortions are performed, as well as for providers of first trimester abortions, so long as the regulations adhere to constitutional limitations."
Cuccinelli’s opinion is important because it gives the green light for the state legislature to pass bills putting abortion centers in the same category as ambulatory surgery centers and requires them to meet certain standards to protect women’s health. Failure to do so would see them close permanently or temporarily while deficiencies are corrected.
The opinion came in response to a question from state Sen. Ralph K. Smith, a Roanoke Republican who asked if the state legislature has the authority to regulate abortion centers.
"This opinion clarifies any legal questions on the issue and sets the stage for regulating abortion clinics like other medical facilities,” Smith said in response.
But Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL’s Virginia affiliate, complained to the Washington Post saying 17 of the 21 abortion facilities in the state may be forced to close if such a bill becomes law.
"We’ve been waiting for the attorney general to take on abortion providers and it looks like this is his first pitch,” she said.
Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall, who had also asked for the Attorney General’s opinion earlier this year, told LifeNews.com, "This is a victory for women and children across Virginia."
Marshall said some of the regulations could be issued in an executive order from the state’s pro-life governor, Bob McDonnell.
"It is my hope that the Governor will issue health regulations as soon as possible," he said.
Virginia’s Department of Health had regulated abortion clinics until pro-abortion Chuck Robb became Governor and ended the practice.
"We should do everything possible to ensure that every woman’s life and health and their future pregnancies are protected by the Commonwealth of Virginia. To do otherwise is to shirk from government’s first responsibility," Delegate Marshall explained. "The National Library of Medicine has hundreds and hundreds of peer review medical articles documenting the immediate dangers of first trimester legal abortion to women and subsequent pregnancies."
Marshall concluded, "I have asked that Governor McDonnell issue regulations identical to those approved by the Fourth Federal Circuit Court in Richmond upholding South Carolina’s medical and safety regulations for first trimester abortion providers as referenced by the Attorney General in his opinion."
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