April 24, 2012 — Twenty of the 23 abortion clinics affected by new state regulations in Virginia have informed the state that they will be able to comply with the requirements, the Washington Examiner reports (Contorno, Washington Examiner, 4/21).
The regulations, which Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) signed into law in January, specify the size of exam rooms, require public corridors to have a minimum width of five feet and stipulate minimum ceiling heights of seven feet 10 inches. They also create new requirements for inspections, record-keeping and medical procedures (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/4).
According to licensing applications obtained by the Examiner, 20 of the clinics said they meet the new standards or are making changes to comply. One of the other three clinics stopped providing abortion care, while the other two said they will perform fewer than five abortion procedures per month, which means they are exempt from the regulations.
Four of the 20 clinics mentioned the possibility of closing in their applications but said it would be a last resort. Several of the clinics have consulted architects about renovating their existing facilities, while others are considering moving to larger facilities or constructing new facilities. A number of the clinics already met the new standards, according to the Examiner.
When the law was enacted, many opponents of the measure said it would force abortion clinics to close. NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia Executive Director Tarina Keene said such statements were not "a veiled threat at all." She noted that complying with the law requires many clinics to undergo expensive renovations or move, at a cost of $150,000 to $3 million each. Even if they make changes, there is no guarantee that the state will accept their plans, Keene added (Washington Examiner, 4/21).