Virginia Bill to Force Most Abortion Clinics to Close

Legislature passes bill requiring them to meet hospital standards
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2011 9:45 AM CST
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell , center, arrives to deliver his State of the Commonwealth address before a joint session of the 2011 Virginia General Assembly in this Jan. 12 file photo.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

(Newser) – Virginia's Senate passed a bill yesterday requiring that all abortion clinics meet the same standards as hospitals—a move critics say will force 17 of the state's 21 clinics to close. The new rules will force clinics to do things like buy new equipment, increase staff training, and make cost-prohibitive structural changes like widening hallways, the AP reports. Abortion rights advocates were furious. "This is not about safety for women," said an executive from NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. "This is about ideology, and this is about politics."

Senate Republicans passed the bill with the help of two defecting Democrats. It goes now to Gov. Bob McDonnell, who intends to sign it into law. "It's not about banning abortions," one Republican senator insists. "It is simply caring for women who are about to have an invasive surgical procedure." Until now, abortion clinics have been considered physicians offices, similar to those providing plastic surgery, colonoscopies, and eye surgery. McDonnell believes all those clinics should be regulated the same way, he tells the Roanoke Times, "and I think this bill will do that."

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