This week I was proud to join a group of women from the Virginia Coalition to Protect Women’s Health to sign a petition urging Governor Bob McDonnell to reject recently-approved regulations for health centers in Virginia that provide abortion services.
As we have seen in recent weeks, Republican leaders in Virginia are playing a dangerous game with women’s health.
Following passage of Virginia Senate Bill 924, the Virginia Board of Health approved a set of regulations last month that would essentially classify health centers providing abortion services as hospitals.
Under this classification, Virginia’s 23 existing health centers providing abortion services will be forced to abide by a strict set of guidelines, such as mandating the width of hallways, the size of rooms, and even the number of parking spaces.
These facilities do not have the financial resources to modify their space. Further, the regulations have nothing to do with patient care or safety.
Earlier this year, Congress faced an attack on women’s health services when the far-right wing of the Republican Party worked to eliminate all Title X funding. Now the anti-abortion fight has come to Virginia’s statehouse.
Restrictions like those proposed by the Virginia Board of Health would all but eliminate the ability of Virginia women to obtain legal, safe abortion services in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. These are commonly referred to as Targeted Regulations against Abortion Providers, or “TRAP” laws. Women in Virginia already face difficulty in finding a first-trimester abortion provider. 86 percent of Virginia’s counties lack any abortion providers.
The Supreme Court ruled on this issue decades ago and it is time for government to step back and let these discussions be made by a woman, in consultation with her doctor.
Regardless of your view on abortion, the impact of these regulations on comprehensive women’s health care will be great. Women’s health centers that provide services to young, minority, low-income and uninsured women could close because of an inability to meet regulations that have nothing to do with women’s health and safety. The health of Virginia’s women should hold higher priority over a political agenda.
These regulations now sit on the desks of Governor McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for approval. I welcome you to join the effort to stop them by signing the petition online at: http://www.coalitionforwomenshealth.org.
Rep. James Moran (D) is Virginia’s 8th Congressional District Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.