Yesterday, the Virginia Board of Health voted to continue a review process of the Commonwealth's abortion center health and safety standards. The review was initiated earlier this year by Governor Terry McAuliffe. As I told the media yesterday, fundamentally, Virginia is reviewing the standards because the governor was paid $2 million to his campaign by the abortion industry and he's repaying it. Normally, a review of existing regulations doesn't happen for at least 4 years after they've been implemented. This review is taking place within 2 years of adoption.
As has typically been the case since McAuliffe took office, presentations to the board yesterday by agency staff completely ignored the over 400 violations of health and safety standards already found in abortion centers. Instead, the board was told about a handful of "complaints" against centers, many of which were found to be "unsubstantiated." The goal, of course, was to make it look like the abortion centers are doing just fine. Remarkably, one "unsubstantiated" complaint about mold inside an abortion center was actually reported in a department of health inspection report. The reason it was "unsubstantiated" was that, by the time it was re-inspected by another agency, it had been fixed. Even simple words like unsubstantiated don't mean to bureaucracy what they mean to the rest of us. One board member mentioned that he had asked at two previous board meetings for copies of inspection reports, variance requests and other materials, and had been promised the materials, but had yet to receive any of the information.
One positive note from yesterday's meeting came early in the discussion. One board member raised concerns over Attorney General Mark Herring's legal opinion that abortion center staff and department of health inspectors don't have to report cases of child rape to proper authorities. The issue arose when it was discovered that girls 14 years of age had abortions at a Roanoke abortion center without parental consent. In Virginia, sex with a girl 13 or 14 years of age (that's around 7th or 8th grade) is rape. Obviously, if a girl of that age is pregnant, under Virginia law, she's been raped, but the Attorney General reversed several previous AG opinions and determined that it's perfectly fine for abortion centers and department of health officials to ignore those rapes. However, Commissioner of Health Marissa Levine said again yesterday that she believes the department has a higher "ethical and moral" obligation and the department is currently reviewing their reporting procedures.
Unfortunately, abortion center operators clearly don't have the same moral or ethical standard and will continue to cover up the rapes.
I would like to express my deepest appreciation for all of you who braved the chilly morning, or drove several hours at the early hour, to be there yesterday. Please believe me when I tell you how important your presence is at these kinds of meetings. There is no question that there were far more pro-life Virginians at yesterday's meeting than pro-abortion (shockingly, this went completely unreported in news stories). The board members who are supportive of strong standards know when you are there! And they are more willing to fight on when they know Virginians are on their side. Of the 39 people who testified, 23 favored keeping the standards as is.
So where do we go from here? The long, potentially two year process of reviewing some sections of the regulations now continues. There will be several public comment periods where we'll need your input. Please don't give up! Please participate when we ask no matter how many times we have to urge your help. The board needs to know how Virginians' really feel about these standards! We will provide details as these public comment periods take place.
Finally, as I also said yesterday, at the end of the day, the law of Virginia requires that there be abortion center health and safety standards and that those standards include some construction requirements. The current regulations remain in effect; inspections will continue; we'll continue to expose the violations that are found - and more will continue to be found, in the future. The abortion industry wants the regulations repealed and that simply will not happen - whether Terry McAuliffe or Mark Herring like it or not. If they want to ignore the law completely, like their President, then let it be so. Virginians will respond accordingly at the next election.
Virginia's abortion health and safety standards have already begun to work because they've exposed the abortion industry for what it is - unethical, profit driven, and bent on hiding behind politicians like Terry McAuliffe. We can't and won't let that happen, and we're counting on you to help us in the coming months!