Thursday, August 26, 2010

Virginia Able to Regulate Abortion Centers

In an opinion released late last week, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli states that the Commonwealth of Virginia can regulate abortion centers absent legislation by the General Assembly. This means that these centers can be regulated through the state’s normal regulatory process.

The opinion was sought by state Senator Ralph Smith (R-22, Roanoke) and Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas).

Providing safety standards for Virginia’s abortion centers has been a legislative priority for The Family Foundation for many years. Until the mid 1980s centers were regulated but that ended due to constitutional concerns. Since that time, abortion centers have been seen by the state as doctor’s offices, which require no emergency equipment for resuscitation or hemorrhage. The Family Foundation has worked to improve safety standards in abortion centers to those required for ambulatory (outpatient) surgery centers. After all, abortion is an invasive, surgical procedure.

Of course, the abortion industry in Virginia, Planned Parenthood and NARAL, have fought with all their might against safety standards for their centers. They argue that the procedure is safe, despite the fact that the state doesn’t have any reporting requirements for complications to abortion (also fought against by the abortion industry) so there is no way to really know. They also argue that abortion centers shouldn’t be “singled out” for regulation. What they don’t say is that other outpatient surgery businesses are self-regulated through respected, national accreditation organizations that require significant safety measures for their seal of approval. No such respected accreditation group exists for abortion.

The Attorney General’s opinion gives Governor McDonnell’s administration the opportunity to create necessary regulations for abortion centers without approval from the General Assembly. Since state agencies such as the Board of Health already have the power to regulate medical facilities this is not a new policy or a policy change that should require legislation. Previous governors simply have not acted on this ability.

(Source:  Family Foundation)

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