Judge Allows Lawsuit Against Virginia Law That Could Close Abortion Clinics

State   |   Dave Andrusko   |   Oct 10, 2013   |   6:24AM   |   Richmond, VA

This process only seems interminable. Presumably someday there will be an end to the arduous process of writing new regulations for Virginia abortion clinics, pro-abortion opposition bordering on hysteria, and legal challenges.

But, alas, based on a very brief Associated Press story, we learn that earlier today a judge decided to allow a lawsuit against the regulations, filed by an abortion clinic, to go forward.

The Falls Church Healthcare Center’s lawsuit was opposed by the Virginia Board of Health and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who is also running for governor. “But the judge said that he wants the lawsuit to get a full hearing so that appellate courts

can ultimately decide the matter,” according to the AP.

In case you forgot, the regulations flesh out SB 924, which were passed by the legislature in 2011. The law mandated that abortion clinics be treated like outpatient surgical centers, if they provide five or more first-trimester abortions a month. The regulations address such issues as building standards, staff training, sanitation, and equipment standards.

Of course, pro-abortionists went ballistic. Unneeded, unnecessary, unjust, etc., etc., etc. But they did not gain any traction until June 2012 when the Board of Health suddenly decided to exempt existing abortion clinics from the law. This “grandfather” provision was widely lauded by the likes of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia and critiqued by pro-lifers, including Cuccinelli.

The board’s 7-4 decision came even though Senior Assistant Attorney General Allyson Tysinger told the members that the board lacked authority to grandfather in existing clinics. She explained that the law passed by the General Assembly that required the regulations specifically mandated the tougher building standards.

Soon after the board made its decision, Cuccinelli refused to certify the regulations. In July, when the board reversed itself (on a 13-2 vote), pro-abortionists reiterated their claims that these requirements were so onerous, so burdensome, abortion clinics would be forced out of business. And for good measure insisted that Cuccinelli had “intimidated” the board, a charge board members denied to reporters.

The comment of then-State Health Commissioner Karen Remley is fascinating in retrospect. “All 20 of the state’s clinics have applied for licensing, and 12 have been granted licenses after submitting plans to correct deficiencies ranging from corridors or doorways being too narrow or having inadequate hand-wash and service sinks,” she told the Board of Health, according to the Washington Times. “None have indicated an intention to close.” That has not stopped abortion advocates from reiterating that abortion clinics will close by the bushelful.

The Washington Post editorialized in April that the requirement that abortion clinics widen their corridors is “arbitrary” because “the width of doorways” has little to do with women’s health.

A letter to the editor was subsequently published, written by Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He noted

“Two days [after the editorial appeared], closing arguments were presented in the murder trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell, charged with third-degree murder in the death of 41-year-old patient Karnamaya Mongar.

“Ms. Mongar received an overdose of anesthesia, but the grand jury indicting Mr. Gosnell for murder said she might still have been saved if not for the clinic’s narrow and cluttered hallway. Even after emergency medical personnel managed to open a locked emergency exit, says the grand jury’s report, they ‘had to waste precious more minutes trying to maneuver through the narrow cramped hallways that could not accommodate a stretcher.’ Ms. Mongar was declared dead in the hospital.”

As our readers know, Gosnell was convicted of third-degree manslaughter in the death of Ms. Mongar and three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of babies Gosnell aborted alive and whose spinal cords he then slit.

LifeNews.com Note: Dave Andrusko is the editor of National Right to Life News and an author and editor of several books on abortion topics. This post originally appeared in his National Right to Life News Today —- an online column on pro-life issues.