Virginia health board approves new abortion clinic guidelines

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – The Virginia Board of Health has approved new controversial regulations for Virginia's 21 abortion clinics.

In the day-long meeting, which took place at the Wyndham Richmond Airport, opponents of the new regulations outnumbered supporters by a two to one margin, though only one side left the room very upset.

An outburst from a pro-choice young man ("Government DOGS!" he yelled) led to police escorting him from the room. He was upset, in part, because the vote wasn't even close. Moments earlier, the state Board of Health voted 12-1 to approve new, stricter, regulations for Virginia's abortion clinics.

Supporters say the new rules will improve health and safety. Chris Freund is with the pro-life Family Foundation.

"At least today, after today, if a woman makes the unfortunate choice of having an abortion in Virginia, she can at least be assured that when she walks into a facility they meet some minimum health and safety standards," Freund said.

Critics, however, call it a political ploy that will limit access to legal abortions because clinics will have to operate more like hospitals. Patrick Hurd is with Planned Parenthood.

"It's a sad day and there will be facilities that perform quality, safe, medical procedures that may not be  able to do so after these regulations are issued," Hurd said.

The vote followed hours of protracted deliberations and a 90-minute public hearing, in which 32 people representing both sides spoke in front of a clock allowing just two minutes apiece.

Of the twelve votes in favor of the tougher regulations, nine were made by appointees of Gov. Bob McDonnell, a pro-life republican.

Creation of the new regulations was mandated by the General Assembly this year. They'll now go to the governor for final approval, and should take effect -on a temporary basis- in January. Permanent regulations will be drafted at a later date.

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