Virginia Abortion Clinics Threatened By New Regulations
First Posted: 8/29/11 05:41 PM ET Updated: 8/29/11 06:03 PM ET
Virginia lawmakers passed legislation in the spring that required the Department of Health to release a set of “emergency” draft regulations for abortion clinics that were to go into effect by December 31.
The rules, released late on Friday, borrow a number of very specific physical plant requirements from a rulebook intended for the construction of new hospitals. For instance, a clinic must have 5-foot-wide hallways, 8-foot-wide areas outside of procedure rooms, specific numbers of toilets and types of sinks and all the latest requirements for air circulation flow and electrical wiring.
“On the first read, it seems hard to imagine that many facilities will be able to comply,” Jordan Goldberg, state advocacy counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights, told HuffPost. “We can fairly say that the regulations as drafted are the most severe, onerous and restrictive that have been proposed anywhere. They’re intended to apply to facilities that don’t yet exist.”
If the Board of Health passes the new standards on September 15, abortion clinics have until January to show the state a plan for the extensive and expensive renovations they’ll have to undergo in order to meet the new requirements.
The Virginia League of Planned Parenthood said none of its five clinics are currently in compliance with the draft regulations. The renovations required to meet the new rules would cost millions of dollars, and abortion clinics would have to foot the cost themselves and try to recoup the money in patient fees down the road.
“We recently spent $4.6 million on renovations for the building I’m in, and we still don’t meet these requirements,” said Paulette McElwain, president and CEO of VLPP. “I think it’s highly likely that most facilities in Virginia that provide abortions wont be able to meet them either.”
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