On Thursday, the nearly $2 million given to Governor McAuliffe’s campaign by the abortion industry bought the majority vote of the Virginia Board of Health. Voting on amendments to the abortion center health and safety standards, a process initiated at the Governor’s request for a premature re-opening of the standards, this board eliminated very critical components to protecting the women of Virginia. The vote was not unexpected as we have watched the Governor appoint members to this board based on a litmus test of supporting the undoing of these standards. Specifically, his appointments to the board include former Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple, one of the most outspoken abortion advocates in the history of the Virginia Senate, former Del. Jim Shuler, a Family Foundation Action zero percenter, Dr. Wendy Klein, a doctor who offices at Planned Parenthood and Linda Hines, a former board member of Planned Parenthood. While many votes were taken on more than a dozen amendments, here are some lowlights:
1. Despite an inspection report that showed a facility didn’t have anyone properly trained in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), the board rejected an amendment that would have aligned the standards with Virginia guidelines on Office-based Anesthesia.In this incident, where a facility was cited for failure to be trained in ACLS, the inspector appeared to be unaware that the facility should be following the Office-based Anesthesia guidelines, further validating the need for clarification in the standards.
2. This board also removed the requirement for centers to refer or provide post-abortion counseling. Decades of women living with regret and trauma associated with their procedure have just been dismissed as the counseling they view as life-saving is apparently not important enough to specifically include in the standards.
3. By recommendation of Virginia Health Commissioner Dr. Marissa Levine, the board voted to remove the specific requirement that centers “develop, implement and maintain policies and procedures for screening of STDs” in compliance with CDC guidelines. In every other context, the Commonwealth does everything possible to emphasize wellness education and screening but when it comes to abortion, providers are allowed to simply do the procedure and make money.
4. Despite 18 of 18 abortion centers currently holding a transfer agreement with a local hospital to comply with existing standards, the board was told that “hospitals won’t grant them” and they should no longer be required. Unlike every other medical environment, abortion doctors do not typically have a relationship with the local hospital. Some have been called circuit riders because they perform abortions at many facilities, often in other states, and simply travel between centers. They are not typically members of the community with admitting privileges at the nearby hospital. While the Department of Health claims to not have authority over the doctor to require admitting privileges, it does have the authority to suggest that the facility should have a relationship with the local hospital for prompt complication care.
5. During debate over the construction standards, the Board of Health summoned an unaffiliated building inspector expert who presented his advice on the construction standards, but was immediately dismissed by the members of the board who were acting on behalf of the abortion industry. One member openly and brazenly stated, “Who cares if there is asbestos hanging from the ceiling?”
At the beginning of the public comment period of the meeting, Delegate Kirk Cox (R-66, Colonial Heights) implored the Board to keep the health and safety standards as they were, explaining the intent of the General Assembly when they adopted the law in 2011. He passionately spoke of what has been found in the series of videos that have revealed the true nature of Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry. As evidence of the passion abortion supporters hold, college students began lining up outside the meeting at 11pm last night, successfully filling all but one spot available for testimony. Apparently, the abortion industry was afraid of those who would testify to the truth about the abortion industry!
Today, Governor McAuliffe succeeded in weakening the very standards that he is using to justify his unwillingness to investigate whether or not Planned Parenthood is selling fetal body parts for profit in Virginia.
Despite valiant efforts from several members of the Board of Health who understand the value of women’s safety, nearly all efforts to water down the standards were passed on a 9-6 margin. This is a 12-18 month regulatory process, so there will be more votes and more public comment periods, but this vote was a critical and unfortunate turning point. The Family Foundation would like to thank the six members of the Board who stood strong and spoke courageously on behalf of safety and life. They valiantly tried to bring logic and facts to the debate, but clearly, the rest of the board wasn’t interested in either.