Virginia Abortions Drop 18 Percent as New Pro-Life Laws Passed

State   Steven Ertelt   May 14, 2013   |   4:03PM    Richmond, VA

The state of Virginia has adopted new pro-life laws ranging from a measure allowing women to see ultrasounds to one that cracks down on health and safety violations at abortion clinics to a law allowing Choose Life license plates.

Those laws and others are apparently paying dividends as a new report shows abortions are down 18 percent in the state.

As one local news report indicates:

Each year in Virginia, for approximately every four live births, there’s one induced termination of pregnancy, or abortion. In 2011, for example, there were 102,525 live births and 23,635 induced terminations, according to the state’s Division of Vital Statistics.

That’s a significant reduction from a few years ago. State records show that while the birth rate declined steadily between 2007 and 2011 (the most recent year with complete statistics available) for a drop of more than 5 percent, the abortion rate in Virginia fell by 18 percent during that same period.

Since 1992, when the Supreme Court ruling in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey opened the way for stricter state regulations, Virginia has added restrictions incrementally. They include requirements for informed consent and a waiting period, parental notification and consent for minors, and state-sponsored counseling. Last year, the legislature added the requirement for an ultrasound. “They’re all common-sense measures,” said anti-choice leader Victoria Cobb, head of The Family Foundation, a Virginia nonprofit that advocates for limited government and religious liberty.

From 1992 to 2004, the Virginia abortion rate dropped from more than 22 per 1,000 women of reproductive age to 16.5 per 1,000; however, it then rose slightly before dropping after 2007 to the current 14 per 1,000, a downward trend that mirrors national statistics.

The numbers could drop further with new laws that hold abortion clinics accountable and could result in them closing if they can’t meet the basic safety standards.

In its latest regulation, Virginia will impose new hospital architectural standards on the state’s abortion clinics, effective in June. After a more than two-year struggle, starting with 2011 legislation by the General Assembly, the 19 remaining clinics must meet the targeted requirements by July 1, 2014. The Board of Health made its final ruling regarding clinics that perform at least five first-trimester abortions monthly in April and Gov. Bob McDonnell recently signed it into law.

Already, Hillcrest Clinic in Norfolk has announced its closing. As the number of first-trimester abortions has dropped, so has the number of providers and the facilities providing them in Virginia — from 41 in 2009 to 32 last year, according to the Department of Health. These include hospitals and physicians’ offices, but the vast majority of abortions are provided at clinics; in 2009, the state started reporting the number of procedures by facility.

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Cobb cited safety as an issue in her support of the new architectural standards. “For doctors’ offices, there are no inspections or annual reporting. We’re certainly pleased that the Board of Health passed safety regulations,” she said. “It’s not like other procedures. Other doctors have other medical associations, a cardiologist would be licensed with the state and a professional organization. You don’t see that with abortion.”

The Hillcrest Clinic abortion business located in Virginia announced last month it will close its doors after being the first facility in its region of the state to do abortions. The abortion clinic could not meet the new health and safety standards the state health board approved recently and will shut down.