Two months ago, at the request of anti-choice legislators Bob Marshall and Ralph Smith, Attorney General Cuccinelli issued a legal opinion stating the Virginia Board of Health has the power to impose stricter regulations on first-trimester abortion providers. Fast forward to the end of September: the Manassas City Council, rather than dealing with pressing city issues affecting residents, decided to pursue a purely ideological agenda and echoed Cuccinelli’s statement by passing a resolution calling on the Board to impose stricter regulations targeting first-trimester abortion providers. The lone dissenter was himself anti-choice, having only dissented because he believed the matter was for the state rather than the county.
Now fast forward to the present: Prince William County seems to be aping Manassas. The six Republican members of the Prince William County Board of County Supervisors officially endorsed Cuccinelli’s opinion, issuing a resolution requesting Governor McDonnell to direct the Board of Health and the Virginia Board of Medicine to impose stricter regulations on offices that perform first-trimester abortions. The two Democrat members of the Board of Supervisors did not dissent, but merely abstained from voting. To their credit, they rightfully pointed out Prince William County does not have a first-trimester abortion provider; Amethyst Health Center for Women is located in Manassas, which is independent of Prince William County. (Not that this is any comfort – Manassas is the reason Cuccinelli made his opinion in the first place.) Why is Prince William County trying to interfere with providers outside its jurisdiction?
The law is already on the books in Virginia that only a physician licensed by the Board of Medicine can perform an abortion. As first-trimester abortion is an outpatient procedure, it is subject to a litany of regulations; the same regulations as other outpatient procedures, like colonoscopies, tonsillectomies, and cosmetic surgery, with comparable or greater risk of complications. (First-trimester abortions face even more regulations, actually, considering the 24 hour waiting period that follows mandatory biased “counseling”.) Second- and third-trimester abortions are already outside the scope of clinics; these are required by law to be performed in hospitals. Additionally, providers must adhere to many other regulatory guidelines. If first-trimester abortion is already regulated, then what is this new push for further restrictions about?
The bottom line is the attorney general (and his political compatriots, Marshall, Smith and Governor McDonnell), Manassas City Council and Prince William County Board of County Supervisors are playing politics with women’s health all under the guise of concern for safety. This Virginia woman is not fooled.
[Thanks to our intern Kripa for her work on this post.]