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After a two-year battle, reproductive rights advocates and the women of Virginia have lost their fight to keep lawmakers from forcing the state's 20 abortion clinics to meet construction standards for new hospitals. The purpose of the new requirement, approved in a 11-2 vote of the Virginia Board of Health on Friday, is to shut down as many of the clinics as possible.

The new requirement is the consequence of another round of TRAP legislation—targeted regulation of abortion providers—that the forced-birther movement has used to curtail abortions nationwide. The requirement passed the Virginia legislature in 2011. But it ran into trouble when the board of health tried to soften it, as noted by Robin Marty at RH Reality Check.

The TRAP law was previously approved by the Virginia Board of Health with a clause that would allow current clinics to be grandfathered in and avoid the new standards. However, after a refusal by the state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to sign the revised bill and a shakeup in appointments to the Board, that clause was removed in September under intense pressure from Cuccinelli, once again subjecting even existing clinics to the new, unnecessary, and exacting standards.
Once the final rule is approved by Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, as it no doubt will be, there is a 30-day final waiting period before it goes into effect. The clinics will then have one year to comply with the new standards, which include covered entryways, and mandated sizes of closets, hallways and procedure rooms.
After the vote, anti-abortion advocates in the packed Department of Health room in Henrico County applauded. Abortion-rights advocates rose to their feet and shouted “Shame!” and in a gesture aimed at the attorney general, displayed red hands and yelled “Ken Cuccinelli has blood on his hands” as they were escorted out.
Caroline O'Shea, deputy director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, stated in a press release:
Now because of Gov. McDonnell and Attorney General Cuccinelli, Virginia is one step closer to losing many women’s health centers that have exemplary records of providing safe first-trimester abortion and reproductive health care, some of them for decades.  That means thousands of Virginia women, particularly low-income women, will lose affordable access not only to abortion care but to the comprehensive services like family planning and well-women care that these centers provide.
Proof once again that women's health and well-being have nothing to do with such legislation despite the claims of forced-birther propagandists.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 11:09 AM PDT.

Also republished by Pro Choice and Daily Kos.

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