By Katherine Greenier
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Abortion providers in Virginia are under orders to make onerous architectural changes to their facilities under a politicized regulation process. Katherine Greenier says there's still time to save these facilities and act in the interests of women's health.
Passed in almost 30 states, these laws have been promoted by abortion opponents nationwide as one of several tactics to curtail access to abortion services.
After the Virginia legislature passed the law, a medical committee drawn from the leadership of hospital ob-gyn departments was assigned to interpret the law. Among other things, this group advised that no architectural requirements be applied to existing health centers.
Existing facilities would be "grandfathered" in.
The attorney general's office, however, wasn't satisfied. Although the language of the law is not specific, it told the Board of Health that strict building standards for existing women's health centers were mandated by state law.
Women in Virginia have turned to women's health centers for almost 40 years for abortion care and comprehensive reproductive health care. Low-income women, students, and uninsured or underinsured women use women's health care centers for quality, safe, and affordable care. If these facilities closed, many women would be left with nowhere to turn.
Virginians need more access to high quality health care -- not even stronger roadblocks.
In the coming year, we hope that the governor will turn back to scientific expertise rather than political ideology in developing the permanent regulations for abortion providers.
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Katherine Greenier is the director of the Patricia M. Arnold Women's Rights Project, ACLU of Virginia.
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