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Governor certifies stricter abortion clinic regulations

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)–Governor Bob McDonnell has certified new abortion clinic regulations that could go into effect as early as this summer if they receive final approval by the State Board of Health. The rules impose specific construction standards on the clinics.

The Board of Health adopted the regulations in September, despite the objections of several protestors who argued the regulations would force several abortion clinics to shut down.

The governor certified the regulations and had them posted to the Virginia Town Hall website on the Friday between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Planned Parenthood of Virginia advocates say they’ll continue to push their supporters and The Board of Health to reject the new infrastructure regulations. 

“We’re not opposed to regulations,” argues Executive Director Cianti Stewart-Reid, “but these regulations don’t speak to the medical care that we provide our patients here, they’re about the length of the hallways and awnings in the front of the building.”

Advocates for the clinic argue the costly infrastructure changes would leave several abortion clinics financially strapped and unable to provide services.

The governor is defending his decision, arguing the regulations are a product of legislation passed with the support of both parties in the House and Senate.

Spokesperson Tucker Martin issued a statement saying, “The governor believes these common-sense regulations will help ensure that this medical procedure takes place in facilities that are modern, safe and well regulated, in order to help ensure the safety and well-being of all patients.”

The Virginia Department of Health says the public will be given a 60-day comment period to voice their opinion.  A town hall meeting will also take place in Richmond and Northern Virginia, although dates haven’t been set.

Erik Bodin, who is supervising clinic licensing and certification for The Virginia Department of Health, says all 20 existing abortion clinics have been given licenses to operate.  He says the clinics will have two years to come into compliance with the new regulations if adopted by the State Board of Health in March.