April 30, 2013 —"[T]he presence of awnings, the width of doorways and the dimensions of janitorial closets have little to do with the health of patients, ... [b]ut by requiring that Virginia's 20 abortion clinics conform to strict licensing standards designed for new hospitals, the state has ensured that many or most of them will be driven out of business in the coming months," a Washington Post editorial states.
The regulations already have "claimed their first victim," the editorial adds. It explains, "Hillcrest Clinic in Norfolk, which for 40 years had provided reproductive health services, including abortions, closed" earlier this month. Hillcrest survived "years of protests, arson, a pipe bombing and an attack by a man wielding a semiautomatic weapon," but the "principal reason it closed its doors was that complying with the regulations would have saddled it with $500,000 in renovations -- an unaffordable expense."
Driving clinics such as Hillcrest out of business is "precisely what [Virginia Attorney General Ken] Cuccinelli [R] and other advocates of the policy intended," the editorial states. It notes that other ambulatory clinics, including oral and cosmetic surgery facilities, are not subject to similar regulations.
"Regulation is essential for all health services," the editorial continues, adding, "But there is no evidence that unsanitary conditions or slapdash procedures are common at abortion clinics in Virginia nor that women who seek services from them are at risk." It concludes, "The state's assault on women's reproductive rights is an ideological crusade masquerading as concern for public health" (Washington Post, 4/26).