Back in June, the Virginia Board of Health voted down several TRAP laws that would have required abortion clinics in the state to conform to new regulations that would have most certainly shut them down, and in a rare display of sanity, the Board decided to grandfather in existing clinics, which exempted them from having to comply with the new regulations.
Well, that same Board, under pressure and intimidation from Governor Ultrasound, Bob McDonnell (R), and attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, reversed their own decision and voted to implement the TRAP laws, which could effectively close down most, if not all, abortion clinics in Virginia:
The state Board of Health voted 13-2 on Friday to adopt regulations that require existing abortion clinics in Virginia to be regulated like new hospitals.
While anti-abortion advocates hailed the decision, abortion-rights supporters said that if the regulations stand, the costs of upgrades required under new construction standards could force some of Virginia’s 20 clinics to close.
The next time some stupid Teabagger throws their “small government” mantra in your face, I think this could be a fairly effective counter-argument. This is huge government, wrapped in red tape, and the only people who are going to suffer from it are the women of Virginia, because these new regulations could force the closure of several of Virginia’s 20 clinics, which aren’t just abortion clinics, but are health care centers for women where they can receive care for a number of health issues.
The passage of the targeted regulations came by way of intimidation of the Board by McDonnell and Cuccinelli, who refused to accept and certify the Board’s previous ruling from June unless the Board acquiesced to their demands and adopted the regulations:
At least one board member said members of the panel felt threatened by a memo from the office of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli that warned board members could lose legal representation from the Attorney General’s Office if they ignored its advice.
In June, the board had voted 7-4 to exempt existing abortion clinics from the new construction standards, only to have Cuccinelli’s office refuse to certify the regulations.
The Attorney General’s Office argued that the board lacked the authority to enact provisions that, in its view, did not comply with the law passed by the General Assembly in 2011. That refusal sent the regulations back to the board for Friday’s reconsideration.
“We were warned. … I could call it a threat, as individual board members, if we didn’t take the advice, if we exceeded our authority,” said board member James H. Edmondson Jr. of Fairfax County, one of two members of the 15-member board to vote against adoption of the stringent new requirements. Ten members of the board were appointed by Gov. Bob McDonnell, who, like Cuccinelli, opposes abortion.
“Maybe that worried some folks,” Edmondson said, referring to the memo from Cuccinelli’s office.
Obviously, the ramifications for Virginia women could be severe. The local chapter of NARAL said that many clinics are trying to conform with the regulations, but it’s a costly venture – which is the exact intent of TRAP laws – and it’s unknown if they will be able to raise the money to “reinvent themselves as hospitals.” And, as one clinic director pointed out, this is nothing but an attempt to circumvent Roe v. Wade and make abortion unavailable, despite the fact that it’s the law of the land:
“You are now at risk of being part of the conspiracy to effectively outlaw abortion in Virginia, against the wishes of the women of this commonwealth, against the law of the land as set out by the Supreme Court, and against the mandate as members of this board,” said Shelley Abrams, executive director of A Capital Women’s Health Clinic in western Henrico County.
“My clinic is now fully licensed — we have done absolutely everything you have asked us to do,” Abrams continued. “The only thing we have not done is rebuild our entire facility.”
On her Friday program, Rachel Maddow talked about this very issue and the consequences that could come to bear on Mitt Romney’s campaign, since Virginia is one of those all-important swing states. Currently, President Obama has a 14 point lead among women in Virginia, and in light of this new debacle and the obvious strong-arm tactics from Cuccinelli and McDonnell, my guess is that lead is only going to widen.
But the more important point that she made, which cannot be stressed enough, is that Virginia and other states like it – Arizona, Kansas, etc. – is what the country would look like under Republican rule. And that isn’t just mindless, liberal flame-throwing, it is a fact. We have watched them in operation for the last two years as they’ve conducted the sustained attacks on women’s health care through the war on women, and the intimidating behavior of McDonnell and Cuccinelli are the epitome of the Republican agenda in action:
“This is really big government, purposely using mountains of red tape, in a targeted way, to shut down specific private businesses in order to get the government’s chosen outcome in a medical decision that you are supposed to be able to make yourself, in conjunction with your doctor. But now the government is going to make that decision for you.
“Virginia women, right now, you have twenty options in the state if you ever need to terminate a pregnancy. Nobody can guarantee you are going to have any options in the state once these new regulations are enforced.
“This is how Republican governance is being modeled in the swing state of Virginia. The women of Virginia and the men of Virginia are being shown what Republicans will do if you vote them into office. So, the implicit question here is, ‘Hey Virginia, do you like what Ken Cuccinelli and Governor Ultrasound have done to your state and to your rights?’ How about those forced ultrasounds? How are those going for ya’? Is the government closing clinics and making medical decisions for you your kind of thing? Do you want that for the whole country? You want the federal government to be like that, too? Because that can be arranged.”
Ladies, I cannot stress to you how important your vote is going to be in November, because if Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan get into office, you can bet your bottom dollar that your uterus is going to be Public Enemy #1 on their list. The warning signs, the red flags are there for all to see, and they cannot be ignored any longer.
WATCH Rachel Maddow’s report: