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Washington Post Praises Va. AG's Opinion Knocking Onerous Rules for Existing Abortion Clinics

Washington Post Praises Va. AG's Opinion Knocking Onerous Rules for Existing Abortion Clinics

May 7, 2015 — A Washington Post editorial applauds Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring's (D) "watertight official opinion," which "la[ys] waste" to former state AG Ken Cuccinelli's (R) arguments that a 2011 law requiring abortion clinics to meet "stringent hospital construction standards ... should apply not only to new structures but also to existing ones -- a departure from long-standing practice for health-care facilities" in the state.

According to the editorial, "[n]o one was misled three years ago when ... Cuccinelli ... twisted legal logic to the breaking point by trying to shutter abortion clinics that had operated legally and safely for years." The editorial notes that Cuccinelli's "transparent purpose ... was to force the closure of most of the state's abortion clinics, which could not afford retrofits to meet hospital standards."

However, according to the editorial, Herring "struck a blow to undo the [law's] damage" by pointing out that the "law used no language allowing the [Virginia] Board of Health to apply new building standards to existing clinics; that the board had never previously applied new standards to existing facilities; that national guidelines for health-care facilities apply explicitly to new construction; and that Virginia's building code says the same thing."

Herring's opinion gives "the green light for state regulators to restore common-sense rule-making," the editorial states, noting that if the state Board of Health "heeds [Herring's] advice, it is now free to rewrite the regulations to lift the threat of closure from the state's existing abortion clinics."

The editorial states, "The Virginia law and ... Cuccinelli's contorted reading of it, like other such measures across the country, are nothing more than extrajudicial attempts to roll back abortion rights, conferred by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade," adding, "Herring's opinion provides a correction" (Washington Post, 5/5).