Washington Post: Virginia Abortion Law “Incendiary Mischief”

State   |   Ken Shepherd   |   Mar 6, 2011   |   2:24PM   |   Washington, DC

The editorially-liberal Washington Post is hardly an enemy of government regulation. Except, of course, when it comes to moves to restrict abortion.

In Wednesday’s paper, the editorial board lamented “Va.’s abortion end run.”

“Mischief, not public health, drives the push for new regulation,” griped the subheader. The online edition headline snarked that “Mischief drives change in Virginia abortion rules.”

The Post dismissed as unprincipled and slippery the manner with which pro-life state legislators had pushed through a law that would require the Old Dominion’s abortion clinics to be regulated like hospitals:

PRINCIPLED OPPONENTS of abortion have options to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, including broadening access to contraception, promoting adoption and pushing abstinence-focused education. But Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly – with the help of two anti-abortion Democratic state senators – have taken a different tack. Through the use of legislative gimmickry – an amendment slipped on to a bill unrelated to abortion – they have pushed through a divisive measure that is unlikely to reduce the number of abortions performed in the commonwealth but which may eventually force some of the state’s 21 abortion clinics to close – if it survives court challenges.

The bill, which Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) says he will sign, reclassifies health centers that perform abortions as hospitals, thereby making them subject to state regulations. It’s possible that those regulations could be drafted by state officials and approved by the state Board of Health by the end of this year. Beyond that set of facts, and that relatively quick time frame, very little is certain.

From a legal perspective, it’s hard to see why abortion should be regulated more stringently than other outpatient procedures. First-trimester abortions – the only kind permitted at clinics in Virginia – are extremely safe when performed by trained providers, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which studies sexual and reproductive health issues. If the purpose of additional regulation is to safeguard the mother’s health, as pro-life lawmakers insist it is, why should first-trimester abortions be treated differently from outpatient procedures such as colonoscopies, appendectomies, sterilizations or plastic surgery?

So apparently the “mischief” is that abortion clinics may close because they don’t meet the regulatory requirements. So much for the idea that pro-choice liberals want abortion to be, in the words of former President Clinton, “rare, safe, and legal.”

The Post continued with the name-calling and biased labeling, dismissing the regulation as “incendiary” while laughably suggesting Tim Kaine was a pro-life governor, even though he did little if anything to restrict abortion during his term:

The Board of Health, whose members serve four-year terms, is dominated by appointees of former governor Timothy M. Kaine (D). Mr. Kaine, a practicing Catholic, opposed abortion, but he was also a foe of incendiary bills like the legislation just passed in Richmond, which he rightly considered an act of grandstanding likely to result in litigation.

Board members, not all of whom are thrilled with the idea of putting out of business any of Virginia’s abortion clinics, will be presented with draft regulations by state health officials, who tend to be professional and non-ideological; but the board members are also advised by lawyers designated by the state’s attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli II, a hard-line conservative and opponent of abortion.

To the pro-choice radicals at the Post, it’s pro-lifers who are hard-line, not pro-choice advocates who oppose any and all sensible regulation of abortion clinics, despite horror stories like the Kermit Gosnells of the world.

LifeNews.com Note: Ken Shepherd is the managing editor for NewsBusters and a former analyst at the Media Research Center who identifies examples of media bias. This originally appeared on NewsBusters and is reprinted with permission.