KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Virginia’s New Strict Abortion Building Codes Part Of A National Trend

Abortion rights supporters and opponents reacted strongly to Friday's decision by Virginia's Board of Health, which is expected to be approved by the governor. 

USA Today: Va. Tightens Building Codes For Abortion Clinics
The Virginia Board of Health voted Friday to tighten regulations on abortion clinics, requiring them to meet the same strict building codes as hospitals. Supporters said the new regulations, which will require renovations at the state's existing 20 clinics, would protect women's safety. Opponents argued the new rules were designed to put the clinics out of business (Winter, 4/12).

Politico Pro: Va. Abortion Clinics Face New Regulations
Since the law was passed [by the state legislature] in 2011, finalizing the regulations has been a laborious, contentious process. Last year, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, an anti-abortion Republican, refused to certify the first round of regulations approved by the board, which would have “grandfathered in” existing clinics so they wouldn’t have to rebuild or extensively renovate. ... The Board of Health then approved stricter regulations — which led to the resignation of Virginia Health Commissioner Karen Remley last fall (Smith, 4/12).

The New York Times: Virginia Abortion Clinic Rules Get Final Approval 
The requirements include, for example, five-foot-wide public hallways, large janitor’s closets and at least four parking spaces for each surgical room. Several other states — including Indiana, Kansas, Michigan and Pennsylvania — have imposed costly facilities regulations on centers performing abortions. ... As of now, all 20 clinics that provide first-trimester abortions will have to comply with the new requirements by late 2014 (Eckholm, 4/12).

The Washington Post: Va. Board Approves Strict Abortion Clinic Rules
The regulations went straight to [Cuccinelli], who quickly certified them. They now go to two state agencies and Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R), who is expected to sign off on them. Always a politically charged issue in the commonwealth, abortion is likely to take on an even greater presence in this year’s governor’s race because of the new clinic rules. The race features two candidates who seem to be polar opposites on the issue: Cuccinelli, an opponent of abortion, and Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a supporter of abortion rights (Vozzella, 4/12). 

NBC News: 'Fundamental Culture Change' On Abortion: Conservatives Make Gains On Restrictions
Four other states have tightened abortion restrictions in less than two months — part of what abortion-rights groups say is an alarming trend since Republicans swept the 2010 elections. The American Civil Liberties Union on Friday called the Virginia restrictions “excessive and inappropriate.” Anti-abortion groups see evidence of a break between the relatively stable politics of abortion at the national level and the action in the states. “There’s a fundamental culture change going on,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, which supports anti-abortion political candidates (McClam, 4/13).

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