Just when we thought sanity might have returned to Virginia’s government… Govenor McDonnell & Attorney General Cuccinelli are at it again.
Earlier this summer, the Virginia Board of Health voted to amend a key provision of proposed TRAP regulations (Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers) to exempt existing women’s health centers from burdensome and politically-motivated construction requirements. The amended TRAP regulations (while still posing a serious threat to the privacy and security of patients and providers) were a huge victory for Virginia women. By amending proposed TRAP regulations to “grandfather in” existing clinics, it is estimated that the Board saved more than twenty women’s health centers across the state from being forced to close their doors.
The Board’s vote was legally sound, constitutional, and medically correct. But on July 16, Attorney General Cuccinelli announced that he would refuse to certify the amended regulations. His reasoning? According to a letter sent from Cuccinelli to Dr. Karen Remley, commissioner of the Virginia Dept. of Health, in voting to amend TRAP regulations, the Board had “exceeded its authority.”
Reason (and law) show that the Board acted precisely within its authority: Virginia law directs the Board to enact regulations “consistent with the current edition of the Guidelines for Design and Construction of Hospital and Health Care Facilities.” The June 15 decision to amend TRAP (and exempt existing health centers from costly construction requirements) is absolutely “consistent with” the guidelines as written.
Let’s call like it is – Attorney General Cuccinelli rejected the Board’s decision not for any medical or legal reason, but simply because it flew in the face of his anti-choice political agenda. In voting to exempt existing health centers from TRAP regulations, the Board of Health protected access to reproductive health services (including safe abortion) for thousands of women across the Commonwealth. Apparently you can have the constitution, law, and medical community on your side, but dare to protect women’s access to health care? You’re overruled.
Since then, AG Cuccinelli has pulled out every trick in the book to essentially veto the Board’s vote – even though such an action is unconstitutional and blatantly in violation of Virginia law. Now, after months of pressuring the Board to reverse their decision, Cuccinelli is forcing them to meet again and reconsider the proposed TRAP regulations. This time, he hopes to bully the Board of Health into toeing his political line – and putting women’s reproductive health-care back in the line of fire.
We need your help to urge the Board of Health to stand strong against the Attorney General’s bullying! Together, we must take action to stop this administration’s anti-choice agenda before it threatens the health of thousands of Virginia women.
Ways to help:
- Join us THIS FRIDAY, September 14, when the Board meets in Richmond to reconsider TRAP
- Can’t make it to Richmond? Urge the Board of Health to continue to vote in favor of permanent regulations based in medicine, not politics.
- Write to your local paper
- Learn more at the website of the Virginia Coalition to Protect Women’s Health
Looking for more up-to-the-minute information and more ways to get involved? Follow the Va Coalition on Twitter!