Virginia Board Splits the Difference on Abortion Regulations

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    The Virginia “War Against Women” today got both a setback and a victory from the Virginia Board of Health. The board voted down the proposed regulation that abortion clinics would have to meet the same building standards as hospitals, a rule that would have effectively shut down all abortion providers in the state. (Of course, Bob McDonnell and Ken Cuccinelli, said the rule simply was meant to protect women’s “safety.”) The board also rejected a provision in the regulations that would have allowed the Department of Health to arrive on the premises of an abortion clinic without any notice in order to inspect the premises.

    While those actions are better than the horror that the Republican-controlled General Assembly envisioned, new requirements will still allow inspectors to request lists of patients from clinics, remove patients’ medical records from those clinics and access clinic security plans. So, if you are a woman in Virginia who goes to a women’s health clinic simply to inquire about possible medical services, your medical records are not private. In doesn’t matter if you actually want an abortion. Your records can be accessed by the state without your permission.

    ProgressVA Executive Director Anna Scholl said, “The Board failed to address dangerous provisions that threaten patient privacy and safety. Allowing government bureaucrats to compile lists of women seeking an abortion and access to their medical records is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to shame and intimidate women out of seeking safe and legal medical care…These ideologically-driven regulations are a serious threat to patient privacy and safety.”

    At some point, the Republican men now controlling government in Virginia need to focus on the real  problems the state’s residents are struggling with and stop obsessing on women’s ovaries, vaginas, and their lack of those physical attributes.  

    • MEDIA STATEMENT FROM THE VA COALITION TO PROTECT WOMEN’S HEALTH: JUNE 15, 2012

      A few hours ago, the Virginia Board of Health voted (7 to 4) to amend a key provision of the draft proposed regulations of first-trimester abortion in Virginia — the amendment means that existing women’s health center that provide safe, legal first-trimester abortion care will be “grandfathered in,” rather than being subjected to onerous and unnecessary forced building requirements. This is a vote on the side of women’s health and wellbeing in Virginia.

      On behalf of women in Virginia, we applaud the Board of Health for making a decision based on patient safety and health, not politics.

      However, patient and provider safety and confidentiality are not similarly protected as a result of today’s proceedings. The Board did not vote to amend the draft regulations to protect patient confidentiality, which is of paramount importance to women’s health centers and their patients.

    • NotJohnSMosby

      They’ve now codified a violation of HIPAA, so a lawsuit to invalidate the latest watered-down fatwa from Taliban Bob and crew should be very straightforward.

    • Elaine in Roanoke

      Both the governor and Kookinelli have the ability to undo the little protection women received by the decision of the board. So, I fully expect that the original attack on women will be the result of the “review” by McDonnell and Cooch.

    • Teddy Goodson

      In addition to the inevitable (I hope) lawsuit could be a movement sending an unending flood of women to each clinic so as to overload their “records.” These women would not be seeking abortions, but simply establishing themselves as part of the case load records (how about 200 women well past child-bearing years showing up). Then let the Taliban go through these records; publicity that some woman went to the clinic would then have no particular embarrassment factor: “simply everyone goes to a woman’s clinic, dahling.” Let some  80- year old great-grandmother arrive in her limo wearing her pearls, “for a female checkup,” complete with attending paparizzi. Yeah, you corporate flack Governor, maybe it’s time  you and your patriarchal bluidgeon of an Attorney General suffered a little embarrassment of your own.