We knew this was coming! Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s most activist attorney general in recent memory, and likely ever, has launched his attack on reproductive rights, setting his sights on reproductive health providers.
In his first year in office, Cuccinelli has taken his position as attorney general and used it to attack anything he doesn’t like, including scientists, global warming, colleges and universities not discriminating against the LGBTQ community, the state seal, immigrants, and health care reform. Next up on Cuccinelli’s crusade: women’s health.
Cuccinelli recently issued a legal opinion, at the request of Senator Ralph Smith and Delegate Robert Marshall, saying the state can circumvent the legislature to impose onerous and unnecessary requirements on Virginia centers that perform abortions. The legislature has considered such requirements in the form of the TRAP (or targeted regulation of abortion providers) Bill every single year for almost a decade–and every single year they recognize the bill for what it really is–an attack on women’s health and access to reproductive care–and defeat it.
We support the highest standards for abortion providers. In Virginia, there are already strict requirements on centers that provide abortion. Only first-trimester abortions, the safest of all abortions, are allowed to be performed outside of hospitals, and only doctors can perform abortions. Furthermore, the medical credentials, safety and cleanliness requirements are all strictly enforced. Despite his claims, the regulations Cuccinelli is suggesting are not there to protect the safety of women. Their only purpose is to serve an ideological crusade to shut down abortion providers!
In Virginia, 86% of counties already have no abortion providers. Of the 21 providers in the state, 17 could be closed down as a result of these onerous regulations. Women’s reproductive health care centers provide women with services they need across the state, including pap smears, cancer screenings, and birth control. To have these centers singled-out to be shut down because they provide abortions is an assault on women’s health and would leave Virginia women without necessary, low-cost health providers.
Cuccinelli and anti-choicers claim that these regulations are there to protect women. Wrong! These regulations have nothing to do with safety standards, and everything to do with ending abortion in Virginia. Want to know what kind of regulations TRAP laws usually include? In South Carolina, the TRAP law included rules about the grass, the temperature and the trash cans. In Mississippi, the clinic has to be in an “attractive setting.” Other regulations include the width of the hallways–expensive changes for a center to make, if they actually own the building, and impossible for those providers who rent buildings, but ultimately something that has no effect on the health and safety of patients. Alarmingly, many TRAP laws are also a threat to patient confidentially. Do these regulations protect women’s health? No! They set up more obstacles to reproductive services. Would we ever impose such ludicrously unnecessary and unrelated restrictions on other outpatient clinics (like cosmetic surgeons)? Not at all.
“It is frightening to think of what Cuccinelli will do next,” said Del. Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria), House minority whip. “The public needs to understand how reckless he is. He is not working on what is important to Virginia consumers. Instead, he is focusing on his own extreme ideology.” (Washington Post)
Help us stand up to Attorney General Cuccinelli and tell him to stop using his office as a platform to restrict the rights of Virginia’s women by calling his office today at (804) 786-2071. You can also click here to email Governor McDonnell and tell him not to allow his Board of Health to issue restrictions on abortion providers that the legislature has refused to approve for the past eight years.
This issue has been getting a lot of press already (check below for links). So let’s make sure we put the pressure on Governor McDonnell not to take away rights from Virginia women.
Press and Blogs:
[Thanks to our intern Amber for her work on this post.]