Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s activist attorney general, continued his socially conservative agenda this week by declaring that the state has the authority to regulate abortion clinics as if they were hospitals or surgery centers.
How did he come to make the decision? Anti-choice lawmakers he worked with to restrict abortion while in the Virginia legislature asked him to “clarify” the issue. From the Virginia Pilot:
The General Assembly has repeatedly considered and rejected bills that would have placed abortion clinics under regulations similar to those imposed on full-service hospitals and surgery centers. Ken Cuccinelli and Bob Marshall know this because they have both sponsored such bills and watched them die.
Now, though, in the latest episode of an ongoing show of political opportunism, Cuccinelli – currently the attorney general – and Del. Marshall have decided that if they can’t get what they want through the legislature, they’ll try to get it by fiat.
This week, Cuccinelli’s office opined, in response to a question from Marshall, that abortion clinics can be constrained by the same rules as surgical centers. Since banning abortions would be legally problematic, the goal instead is to make them less accessible and more expensive.
Cuccinelli’s opinion, though, is just that. It is nonbinding. Even so, his tactics reveal a disregard for the very government institutions that are his clients. His opinion shrugs off the legislative branch as obsolete and irrelevant. In Cuccinelli’s world, the will of elected lawmakers can be skirted by 15 appointees on the Board of Health.
The Cavalier Daily, newspaper of the University of Virginia, has more on the end-run around Virginia’s lawmaking body:
Many state legislators, including Cuccinelli when he was a state senator, have proposed bills that would have forced reproductive centers to meet the standards of an outpatient surgical hospital, but the General Assembly has rejected similar motions in the past. Cuccinelli’s opinion, should it lead to stricter regulation, may potentially circumvent the legislature and simply go before the Board of Health, and in turn, affect the operations of abortion clinics across the state.
Early reports from the Washington Post about the decision were not exactly balanced in their reporting, and RH Reality Check’s Jodi Jacobson took the Washington Post to task for its original piece on Cuccinelli’s decision. A Washington Post editorial, however, speaks to some of the issues Jodi addresses:
But do the women of the commonwealth need additional protection? Has the state experienced a spike in abortion-related complications, including those that, as Mr. Marshall suggests, imperil future pregnancies? No, and no.
State medical and health boards already provide oversight of abortion facilities and the medical personnel who perform roughly 25,000 abortions each year. The Virginia Department of Health does not keep statistics on the number of medical complications associated with abortions. But the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit think tank that focuses on reproductive health and supports legal abortion, reports that less than one-half of 1 percent of abortions performed in the country result in complications that require follow-up medical treatment. The earlier the abortion is performed, the fewer the complications. The Virginia clinics in question perform only first-trimester abortions — the safest of all procedures. The institute provides compelling medical information that a woman’s decision to have an abortion has little to no impact on her ability to give birth later.
As for the activist AG, some Virginia lawmakers are concerned about Cuccinelli’s lack of boundaries. The Cavalier Daily reports:
“It is frightening to think of what Cuccinelli will do next,” said Del. Adam P. Ebbin, D-Alexandria, the 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.”
Mini-Roundup: Conservative talk show co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck of The View states she’s in favor of gay marriage! And she believes the government shouldn’t be telling women what to do with their bodies! (Because she’s anti-mandate, not pro-choice.)
- Voters OK Parental Notification Measure – WNCT
- Leicester sees reduced advanced cervical cancer death rates – TopNews New Zealand
- North Carolina bishops blast abortion coverage in student health plan – Catholic Culture
- Alaska on ballot measures: Yes on parental consent, no on public spending – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
- Murkowski faces possible upset – Politico
- Voters approve measure requiring abortion notification – Anchorage Daily News
- Pregnancy aspirin advice issued – BBC News
- Cuccinelli issues opinion on abortion clinics – University of Virginia The Cavalier Daily
- Home births double over decade – BBC News
- ‘Abortion’ Googled more in conservative areas – Boston Herald
- Elisabeth Hasselbeck supports gay marriage and abortion rights, envies … – Examiner.com
- The case against stronger abortion regulations in Virginia – Washington Post
- Mcdonnell: Abortion Clinics Merit State Oversight, – WJTV
- STIs on an increase amongst pregnant women – Fijivillage
- Plaintiffs in stem cell lawsuit made news for other issues – Los Angeles Times
- Recession’s toll: Births fall in Illinois – Chicago Tribune
- Cuccinelli tries another end run – The Virginian-Pilot
- Utah senator regrets “offline” remarks about Medicaid epidurals and c-sections – Examiner.com
- VA Attorney General Issues Opinion on Abortion Clinic Regulations – Ms. Magazine
- Restrict abortion, protect women? – Salon
- Kneale: Obama in Stem Cell Straits – CNBC
- Taxpayer-funded Abortions for Military Personnel? – The New American
- Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli's Ruling Makes Abortions Safer – U.S. News & World Report (blog)
- HIV patients let down by ART centre – Times of India
- State plans to expand family planning waiver – Wisconsin Radio Network
- Uganda: Breastfeeding Dilemma for HIV-Positive Mothers – AllAfrica.com
- Abortion is divisive issue in Republican primary – Houma Courier
- Virginia can regulate abortion clinics, Cuccinelli decrees – Leagle.com
- Medvedev promises to support U2 Bono in fighting AIDS – RIA Novosti
- Cancer Drugs Force HIV to Mutate to Death – Voice of America
- Virginia abortion clinics face shutdown – UPI.com