The Corner

Virginia Puts Abortion Access above Women’s Health

On Monday, Virginia became the first state to liberalize its regulations on abortion clinics using the logic of this summer’s Supreme Court ruling in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt. The Virginia State Board of Health voted eleven to four to weaken the existing regulations, claiming that they are now unconstitutional.

These regulations were adopted in 2011, following the shocking revelations about the dangerous, vile conditions inside abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s Philadelphia abattoir. Prior to Monday, abortion facilities were required to meet standards similar to those in ambulatory surgical facilities (i.e. hospitals), submit to unannounced inspections, obtain basic emergency equipment, and maintain a licensed doctor on the premises until women were discharged after abortion procedures.

While pro-abortion activists have cheered this decision to largely dissolve the restrictions, it is indisputable that their weakening will lead to abortions taking place in unsafe conditions — or, at least, conditions that are not as safe as they ought to be for the health of the mothers involved. For example, late-term abortionist Steven Brigham — who has already lost his license to practice in five states — was charged with performing illegal late-term abortions, and it is alleged that he injured several women during abortion procedures. This April, Brigham’s abortion clinic in Fairfax, Virginia, was shut down by authorities after an inspection revealed filthy conditions, unsterilized equipment, and other unsanitary practices.

According to Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, authorities have found similar problems in other abortion clinics, such as “bloody, unsterilized medical equipment, doctors and nurses not washing hands or re-gloving between patients, [and] untrained and unaccountable staffing.” In one instance, at the Richmond Medical Center for Women, inspectors found staffers re-using sponges for cleaning up, while at the Roanoke Medical Center for Women, they discovered blood on many walls and tables. Meanwhile, Olivia Gans Turner, president of the Virginia Society for Human Life, told Life News that this new decision will exempt clinics from complying with some Center-for-Disease-Control measures and certain fire codes.

Despite these facts, Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe established the goal of weakening abortion-clinic regulations as priority for his time in office. It is worth noting that McAuliffe accepted close to $1.5 million from the abortion industry during his election campaign. Following Monday’s vote, the results will undergo executive review and await McAuliffe’s signature. If he approves the changes, they will be enacted after a 30-day public-comment period.

“I am very concerned by the fact that these restrictions are closing our healthcare centers in Virginia, which is limiting access to women who otherwise may not have any other means to receive the care that they need,” said Doctor Serina Floyd, Medical Director of Planned Parenthood of Metro Washington, according to NBC12.

But Floyd and her fellow pro-abortion enthusiasts miss a critical point: Clinics only have to close if they fail to meet rational health standards, standards that are in place in hospitals for a reason. Such restrictions aren’t a ploy to shut down clinics; they are genuinely aimed at protecting mothers from physical harm during abortion procedures. If low-income women in urban areas so desperately need Planned Parenthood and other abortion facilities — a fact that is itself not fully evident given the distinctly harmful nature of abortion — the burden is on those clinics to offer a safe, healthy facility to those women. Medical directors who are truly concerned for women’s care should not object to following practical, commonsense regulations on their buildings and operations.

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