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Women’s Health Advocates Disappointed in Fairfax City Failure to Reconsider Problematic Zoning Law


The following press release is from Progress Virginia. Also, to watch the public comments from the last two meetings (July 9, July 23) of the Fairfax City Council on this subject, see here. One thing I noticed last night is that the people speaking AGAINST the Fairfax City zoning ordinance were almost all women, and those speaking FOR the Fairfax City ordinance were almost all men (strongly anti-abortion ones). Fascinating, huh? Finally, check out my post here, with more detail about this situation than you probably ever wanted to know (in all seriousness, this is actually a very important topic, and has been far too much under the radar screen).  

Fairfax City, VA – Last night, the Fairfax City Council refused to reconsider a July 9th decision to reclassify women's health centers for zoning purposes in a way that will make it much more difficult for the centers to operate in the city. The councilmembers' decision has generated vocal concerns and criticism from constituents and women's health advocates over the past two weeks, who argue that the ordinance will single out women’s health centers for unfair and medically-unnecessary regulation.  

Eleven women’s health organizations sent a letter to Mayor Silverthorne and the Council last week outlining multiple objections to the ordinance as well as outstanding questions which city staff did not address during the drafting process. Although the Mayor did respond with an attempt to clarify numerous outstanding questions, advocates remain unsatisfied with the vague and ultimately undefined nature of the zoning ordinance. Topping the list of concerns is the medically inappropriate grouping of women's health centers with hospitals rather than doctors' offices, the lack of substantive definition of a “medical care facility”, and the arbitrary zoning process which relies on an undefined formula and allows for potential political intervention in zoning decisions. 

“While we appreciate Mayor Silverthorne’s attempt to clarify this zoning ordinance, we remain concerned that the loosely-defined nature of the law will disproportionately impact women’s health centers and threaten their ability to provide critical care within city boundaries,” said Noah Mamber of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington DC.  “We are extremely disappointed that the Council chose to ignore public outcry and keep this ill-conceived ordinance on the books.”

“Politicians have no business interfering in private decisions that should be between a woman, her doctor, her family, and her faith,” continued Alena Yarmosky of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. “We may have lost last night, but we are committed to continue working with the Mayor, councilmembers and the citizens of Fairfax City to ensure that women’s health centers are treated fairly and justly under the law.”