State Senate Votes on Major Abortion Bill Thursday
Washington Post: [Virginia Politics] 2/23/11
The Virginia Senate has postponed a major vote over abortion rights, as Democrats in the chamber hunt for votes to kill last-minute legislation that would regulate clinics where first trimester abortions are performed as hospitals.
The chamber Wednesday began a debate over the abortion clinic amendment added by the House of Delegates to an unrelated bill. Sen. Jeff McWaters (R-Virginia Beach) told colleagues that the measure is needed to ensure the safety of women who seek abortions.
Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (D-Arlington) said that Virginia would be the first state in the country to regulate first trimester abortion clinics as hospitals and that the rules, which include regulations on hallway and doorway width, would put the majority of the state’s abortion clinics out of business.
Two conservative Democrats have said they will vote for the bill. If all of the chamber’s 18 Republicans also back the measure Thursday, the chamber would face a tie vote. A tie would be broken by Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R), who supports the bill.
A spokesman for Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said Wednesday that governor supports the amendment and will sign the bill if the senate approves it.
“He encourages the Senate to approve this commonsense measure that will ensure that all outpatient surgical centers are treated the same, in order to ensure the health and safety of our citizens,” said McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin. “He will sign the bill if it passes the full legislature. At that time we would then work with the appropriate state agencies to promulgate regulations consistent with this statue.”
By Rosalind S. Helderman
This is a serious bill that will put some clinics that provide abortion services out of business, which is the bill’s intent. Virginians will just have to go to other states if they need abortion service if existing clinics cannot widen their hallways and increase their door width and basically turn in to mini hospitals. Certainly the building codes are not the only restrictions. The bill, if passed, would make any clinic performing more than 5 abortions a month meet hospital standards.
The question Virginians should be asking themselves is do they want all outpatient surgeries to conform to this same standard? Oral surgery, some dentistry, dermatology, plastic surgery all have surgeries performed and many of these procedures have a much higher risk than abortion. Virginia will probably become the mecca for RU-486 abortions. Those patient requiring surgical abortion might have to go to adjoining states or the District.
It seems to me, all or none. Either all outpatient surgical procedure fall under these draconian rules or none do. That is the part of this plan that simply won’t pass the smell test or hold up in court. Our own local Senator Colgan will probably be one of 2 state senators who support the bill. If that should happen, he had better not count on putting a sign in my yard again. One can be opposed to abortion without just being ridiculous.