A few days ago, Virginia’s Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli (“the Cooch”), said in a legal opinion that the state’s Board of Health could “regulate” abortion clinics. In response, the local pro-choice folks claimed that such action could close 17 of the state’s 21 abortion clinics.
The first bit of info that is missing here is that abortion clinics are already subject to a number of regulations on the state, federal and local level. I mean, after all, they are MEDICAL facilities, aren’t they? Does the Cooch think that their doctors don’t have licenses, that there is fetus blood all over the floors, that they do not use sterilized instruments? Has he never heard of OSHA, CLIA, HIPPA and the other acronyms that mean nothing to me but strike fear in the heart of any medical office?
The second thing is: what makes him think that abortion clinics need more regulations? Has there suddenly been a series of deaths in the abortion clinics? Are hundreds of women calling to complain about unsanitary conditions at these facilities? Of course not. To the contrary – abortion remains one of the simplest, hence, safest medical procedures available in this country.
The third thing that hits me is: Has the Cooch ever been in an abortion clinic? Has he ever toured one of the four abortion clinics that are right around the corner from his office in Richmond? Does he even know how abortion clinics operate? Of course, the answer is no.
What the Cooch and his allies are attempting to do is to close down abortion clinics, pure and simple. Years ago, in South Carolina the state passed a number of regulations that basically required that abortion clinics be regulated as hospitals. They required the clinics to widen their hallways. They said the thermostat had to be set at a certain temperature. They even required the clinic to control the insect population on the lawn. I kid you not. It was absolutely absurd. As a result, two clinics that could not afford to make those very expensive changes went out of business.
That’s what the Cooch is trying to do in ole Virginny. He is anti-abortion and this is just a sneaky way of pushing his anti-abortion agenda. It has nothing to do with enhancing the safety of abortion or protecting women’s health. This message is very confusing to me – he wants to outlaw abortion but he “cares” about the women and wants to make sure that they are getting the best abortion treatment. That’s totally screwy.
On the other hand….yes, there’s always another hand.
The pro-choice groups are apoplectic. Oh my God, they’re gonna close all of these clinics! Women will not be able to get abortions. Please join us in fighting the Cooch and, by the way, please send us a million dollars today so we can save women’s reproductive rights.
Okay, my fellow pro-choicers, calm down.
The fact is that the Cooch’s legal opinion says that the Virginia Board of Health could impose additional restrictions. It’s all up to them. They can take the Cooch’s cue and say thanks very much, but I got better things to do. Or they could try to determine if there are actually some constructive new regulations that might benefit women. We just don’t know what they’ll do. Indeed, some observers of the Board are suggesting that the majority of its members will do nothing because they were appointed by the former pro-choice Democratic governor.
We’ll have to watch things closely, of course, and we appreciate local pro-choice organizations like Virginia NARAL. Meanwhile, however, if I ran a clinic in Virginia, I’d be writing a letter to the Board of Health inviting them to visit my clinic so they can see how great my facility is. I would tell them that if they have any constructive suggestions then of course I’d consider them, but I will oppose anything that is mere harassment. Here’s a chance for abortion clinics in the state to take the high road and to remind everyone that they are upstanding medical facilities and not “back alley” abortion clinics.
- Virginia Uses Pretense of Public Health to Shut Down Abortion Providers (womensrights.change.org)
- Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli’s Ruling Makes Abortions Safer (politics.usnews.com)
- Cuccinelli tries yet another anti-abortion approach (dailykos.com)
- SC’s Governor and VA’s Attorney General: For The Children (redstate.com)
- Cuccinelli Cracks Down On Abortion (npr.org)
- Cuccinelli: Virginia Can Regulate Abortion Clinics (theroot.com)
- SC’s Governor and VA’s Attorney General: For The Children (deaconforlife.blogspot.com)
- Will Viriginia Make an Abortion So “Safe” that It Is Impossible To Obtain? (blogher.com)
- Monday’s Mini-Report (washingtonmonthly.com)