I am writing to you in order to call attention to an all-out assault that has been launched against women's reproductive health in our state. The Virginia General Assembly targeted women's reproductive health and rights when it passed legislation requiring new regulations for health centers that provide abortions. Although the recent legislation calls for "emergency" regulations because of risks to women's health, this is nothing more than a politically charged attempt to make abortions unavailable to women in Virginia.
There is no medical evidence to show that these extreme regulations would benefit women. Abortions already are regulated by the state in women's clinics. Additionally, not only will these regulations limit women's access to safe, regulated abortion in Virginia, they also will bar women from receiving other forms of essential reproductive care that they may not be able to afford otherwise. Thus, women's health is being subjected to a political game in which Gov. Bob McDonnell and Attorney General and University alumnus Ken Cuccinelli are the main players.
How will these regulations trap women? These "emergency" regulations require all clinics that provide five or more abortions per month to be considered hospitals, thus subjecting them to medically unnecessary regulations that have nothing to do with their function. There are numerous architectural and procedural requirements that have no proven medical benefit to patients, leaving unspecified the reason for why these regulations are classified as emergency rather than normal. If this were truly an attempt to improve women's health in Virginia, then there should be substantial medical evidence to back up these regulations. Also, if the true goal of these regulations is purely political, there should be more time to get input from the public and allow true, democratic debate.
Now these regulations go before McDonnell in Richmond. I hope he will be guided by what is in the best interest of patients instead of caving in to pressure from anti-choice forces. The Virginia Board of Health should treat procedures administered at women's health centers like similar medical practices, and should make regulatory decisions based on good medicine not bad politics.
Lizzy Ramey\nCLAS II\nCampus Organizer for the Virginia Coalition to Protect Women's Health