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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 14, 2012
Board of Health Rejects Grandfather Amendment in Vote to Apply Proposed Regulations to Existing Women's Health Clinics
Decision could force up to twenty Virginia women's health centers to close
On Friday, September 14, the Virginia Board of Health defied the recommendations of legal and medical experts in voting 13-2 to subject existing women's health centers to burdensome buildings regulations. After months of pressure tactics by Attorney General Cuccinelli, the Board reversed its earlier decision to grandfather in existing clinics and exempt them from the medically unnecessary regulations. If signed into law, these regulations will force up to twenty women's health centers in Virginia to shut down.
"We are stunned by today's vote, and extremely disappointed in the thirteen Board of Health members who decided to put political ideology before evidence-based scientific fact," said Tarina Keene, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. "Hundreds of voices were silenced today."
More than 300 pro-choice advocates were shut out of the vote, despite repeated requests to move the meeting to a location that could accommodate public discussion. Among those denied the chance to speak were several legal and constitutional experts, set to testify that in rejecting the Board’s June vote, Attorney General Cuccinelli had exceeded his authority and undermined the Board’s decision-making power. Several physicians and clinic advisors were also blocked from testifying on behalf of the nearly 200 Virginia doctors who urged the Board to reject political pressure and protect women’s access to essential medical care.
"It is unprecedented to force existing health centers to comply with building regulations intended for new construction, and the Board acted well within its authority in voting to amend these regulations in June," Keene said. "We will continue to stand for women's health, despite this administration's attempt to silence us. Virginians are sick of playing politics with women's lives."