A judge is allowing a lawsuit against Virginia’s harsh new abortion clinic regulations to proceed, ignoring Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s (R) request to toss it out. The decision represents a victory for the women’s health advocates who have been fighting against the regulations for months.
Virginia tightened its regulations on abortion clinics in April. The state’s Board of Health approved unnecessary rules that require abortion providers to meet new standards that haven’t been applied equally to outpatient hospital facilities, a move that has already forced the state’s busiest abortion clinic to close its doors. Targeting clinics in this way, which indirectly limits access to reproductive health care without banning the abortion procedure itself, is a popular anti-choice tactic that’s successfully gaining ground across the country.
In Virginia specifically, Cuccinelli — who is now the state’s GOP candidate for governor — was instrumental in enacting the new abortion clinic policy. He essentially threatened the Board of Health, warning members they could be denied state-funded legal services if they voted to relax the clinic regulations. Last October, Virginia health commissioner Dr. Karen Remley resigned from her position on the Board in protest of the regulations, citing her disapproval of the proposed anti-abortion laws as the primary reason she could no longer serve “in good faith.”
Falls Church Healthcare Center (FCHC), one of the state’s abortion clinics, filed a lawsuit against the regulations in March. Although Cuccinelli attempted to prevent the suit from proceeding, Wednesday’s decision will ensure that the new restrictions will see their day in court.
“We’re thrilled that the court today rejected the Attorney General’s attempts to keep this case from being heard,” Rosemary Codding, FCHC’s director, said in a statement. “We can now look forward to our day in court to overturn these burdensome and medically unnecessary regulations.”
FCHC’s supporters rallied outside the court house on Wednesday morning, chanting, “Virginia women deserve more.” Abortion providers and health care professionals addressed the crowd. “Call it what you will, but Virginia women are Ken Cuccinelli’s causalities,” one speaker noted.