Heated arguments continue over abortion clinic regulations

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--Another public hearing on tightening licensing standards for Virginia’s abortion clinics brought passions to the forefront Thursday.

About 50 people testified before members of the State Board of Health, offering comment on proposed regulations that would require existing clinics in the Commonwealth to comply with the standards set for new hospitals.

“They’re playing politics with women’s lives,” said Katherine Waddell, a former Virginia delegate who opposes the reforms.

Feelings from the opposite side of the issue were just as prevalent.

“Clearly the abortion industry is unable to self-regulate,” said Virginia Podboy, Associate Director of the Virginia Catholic Conference, who supports the new rules.

But perhaps the most recognized speaker of the day was former Virginia Commissioner of Health Karen Remley. The handling of new regulations was the cause for Remley’s sudden departure last October.

Though her position was surrendered, it was clear Thursday her conviction on this issue remains strong.

“It was so important to me to follow my own personal ethics and just say ‘I can’t be in this situation,’” said Remley.

Remley believes that Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli overstepped his legal authority when he refused to accept the board’s initial vote to shoot down the new regulations.

“You’re not going to use your own personal agenda to further extend your reach,” said Remley.

Remley contends that she has never talked publically about her stance on abortion. She says while she does not approve of the new regulations, whether she is pro-life or pro-choice remains a separate issue.

“What I am is pro-government with the right amount at the right time,” said Remley.

There is one final hearing on the regulations before the board is expected to vote in mid-April.  Remley says that her job as commissioner was the best she ever had, and that she has no regrets and hopes to re-enter a career in public health in the future.