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Va. Advocates Mobilize for Hearing on Abortion Clinic Regulations

Va. Advocates Mobilize for Hearing on Abortion Clinic Regulations

September 10, 2012 — Abortion-rights supporters and opponents are urging their respective allies to attend a Virginia Board of Health meeting on Friday that will determine the fate of proposed regulations for the state's abortion clinics, the AP/Washington Times reports.

Abortion-rights advocates were pleased with the board's decision in June to exempt existing facilities from the requirements, which would mandate that abortion clinics meet the same building standards as new hospitals (O'Dell, AP/Washington Times, 9/8).

However, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) in July said the health board's vote was unlawful and refused to certify the requirements, which are among several regulations being implemented under a law Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) signed in January (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/31).

Abortion-rights advocates plan to attend this week's meeting and hold a silent protest beforehand.

Recusal Requested

Opponents of the regulation are calling for board member John Seeds -- senior associate dean of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine -- to recuse himself from the vote. Seeds, an ob-gyn McDonnell appointed to the board in July, opposes abortion rights and served on a medical advisory panel that helped draft the regulations.

Shelley Abrams, executive director of Capital Women's Health Clinic in Richmond, Va., questioned Seeds' ability to "make science-based and evidence-based decisions," adding, "He's already proven with his activism against abortion that this is a crusade for him." Seeds said he will not recuse himself.

Meanwhile, abortion-rights opponents hope to make a bigger showing at the meeting this week than they did in June, when abortion-rights supporters had a stronger turnout. Victoria Cobb, president of the conservative Family Foundation of Virginia, in an email stated, "We need to mobilize hundreds of pro-life Virginians at this meeting to show the Board of Health, the media, elected officials and the electorate that we are pro-life, we are passionate and we are the majority" (AP/Washington Times, 9/8).