For years pro-life Virginians have tried to convince the General Assembly that abortion centers need to be regulated for the sake of the safety of the women who unfortunately decide to end their pregnancies. The fact that the Virginia Senate, in particular, has refused to let regulation bills out of committee has proven that they aren't serious about the so-called "safe, legal and rare" policy. However today, on the House floor, Delegate Kathy Byron (R-22, Lynchburg) was successful in amending SB 924, a bill that requires the Board of Health to promulgate regulations containing minimum standards for certain medical facilities, to include abortion centers! A pro-abortion delegate challenged the germaneness of the amendment, but after consulting with his parliamentarian, House Speaker Bill Howell (R-28, Stafford) ruled that the inclusion of abortion centers was germane because it was in the class of medical facilities enumerated in the bill and did not change the definition of the bill. After a brief debate, the amendment passed 63-34, then the bill itself passed 67-32.
Because it is a Senate bill amended by the House, the full Senate must vote on it again in the next day or two! Finally, we will have a historic vote on regulating abortion centers in Virginia! Please contact your senator immediately and urge him or her to vote for the amended version of SB 924!
Abortion center safety has received increased attention recently due to two unrelated events: a botched abortion originating with New Jersey-based Dr. Steven Brigham and a "horror shop" abortion center in Philadelphia. Pro-abortion advocates look at these examples and say, "Tell us of something in Virginia and then maybe we'll listen." The fact is that Dr. Brigham, who lost his license because he started late term abortions at his New Jersey centers and then transferred patients to Maryland to complete them, owns two abortion centers in Virginia and has no Virginia medical license. (He is not licensed in Maryland, either.)
Additionally, Dr. Brigham's two Virginia abortion center Web sites offer the following surgical abortion procedure:
Surgical abortion patients who are between 14 and 24 weeks pregnant will be referred to our Cheverly [MD] location after their first appointment for the completion of their procedure.
Abortions after 13 weeks in Virginia must be done in a hospital, not a clinic. It is not clear whether these two Virginia abortion centers are beginning illegal abortions or if a doctor at these two centers is practicing in Virginia without a license. We were able to locate Dr. Brigham's centers in Virginia only because of the tragic situation in New Jersey.
Sadly, without the tragic medical emergency in New Jersey that led to his discovery, Virginians would never know about Dr. Brigham. Of course, we still don't know as much as we should because his abortion centers, and those of Planned Parenthood and every other abortionist, are neither inspected nor reviewed. Currently, the only way for the state to find out if there is a problem in an abortion center is if a woman who had an abortion files a complaint with the state — violating her right to privacy and opening herself up to publicity.
Virginia once responsibly regulated abortion centers with regulations upheld by the federal courts as constitutional. Years ago, we unilaterally suspended them. Now, after decades, the full Senate will have a historic vote as to whether the Board of Health must develop new ones. Please don't let this opportunity pass. Help us create history this session with a landmark Senate pro-life vote. Ask your senator now to vote for SB 924 as amended, as it will come up in the next day or two.