On April 12, 2013, the Board of Health of the Commonwealth of Virginia approved new laws deploying building codes and architectural regulations sanctioning that clinics offering first trimester abortions meet the same building specifications as newly-constructed, full-service surgical hospitals. Mandating compliance within about 18 months, these standards will entail significant and costly alterations to existing facilities that may bankrupt many clinics in the state.
The political maneuvering which occurred to achieve these architectural arrangements, and the responses of concerned professionals in Virginia, were well documented in the press. The Health Commissioner resigned in protest. The chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Virginia’s School of Medicine called these building codes “arbitrary and capricious.” A director of the University of Richmond School of Law wrote an editorial challenging the legislation on legal grounds. Almost 200 physicians took a public stand, denouncing the politicians and urging the state to reject the architectural alterations.
Health policy analysts, social workers and advocates for low income women - who will be greatly impacted when these local clinics close - continue to speak up and organize. We have heard from just about everyone with a stake in the impending architectural arrangements.