The first legal challenge to new Virginia State Board of Health regulations that govern abortion facilities in the state was filed last week, arguing the rules are “arbitrary and capricious and an abuse of discretion.”
The lawsuit, filed in state court by the Falls Church Healthcare Center argues that the rules are the product of a “legally flawed process” that failed to consider the impact of the changes on a small business and reflect “the lack of any rational, medical or public health basis” for regulating the clinics as hospitals. The lawsuit also claims the office of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, which advised the board on the regulations and refused to certify a board decision last June to exempt existing clinics from the new rules as part of an overall crusade to end access to legal abortion in the state, gave the board bad legal advice and overstepped its authority in the matter.
The Virginia regulations are part of a series of targeted regulation of abortion provider (TRAP) laws to sweep the nation as conservatives coordinate national attacks on abortion rights through state-level restrictions. The lawsuit claims it would cost the Falls Church Healthcare Center roughly $2 million to renovate its facility to meet the new standards. Of course, that is exactly the idea behind the kind of TRAP regulations challenged in the lawsuit: make compliance impossible, either because it is too expensive or simply not reasonable.
Attorney General Cuccinelli’s office has not yet responded to the lawsuit.