Next Va. Gov. Will Decide Abortion Clinics' Fate, Washington Post Editorial States

September 17, 2013 — Two of Virginia's busiest abortion clinics have already closed, and if state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) "is elected governor in November, most of the remaining 18 clinics are likely to shut their doors within months," a Washington Post editorial states.

Cuccinelli "was instrumental in ensuring that new regulations will result in the closure of many of the state's abortion clinics," and closing more of the clinics would "make access to abortion, as well as to family planning advice, difficult for thousands of Virginia women, particularly in rural areas," according to the editorial.

The editorial notes that the state's Board of Health was poised to exempt existing clinics from the new standards, but Cuccinelli "intervened" and "warn[ed] board members that his office would not defend them in the event they were sued." For clinics to stay open under the new standards, many would have to "retrofit their facilities to widen hallways, expand parking lots, install expensive (and unneeded) equipment and rebuild janitorial closets," which most cannot afford. Meanwhile, aides to Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe "believe the next governor could move unilaterally to protect existing abortion clinics … by instructing the health commissioner to grant waivers" to clinics or "by urging that existing clinics be exempted from the regulations," the editorial continues.

The editorial argues that "[t]here is no evidence that women are at risk in Virginia's abortion clinics, nor is there evidence of serious or widespread unsanitary conditions that endanger women's health." The survival of the facilities "will determine whether access to abortion, sanctioned by the Supreme Court, is real or notional," and "[t]he decision will rest squarely with whomever is elected the next governor," the editorial concludes (Washington Post, 9/16).