Last week, in a victory for women's rights, abortion center regulations that were passed into law more than a decade ago finally went into effect in Arizona when a court there ruled the law constitutional (see Americans United for Life blog). It took that long because of an irony only the abortion industry could engineer: Pro-abortion groups sued Arizona to stop the law — even though the language in the law used Planned Parenthood's and the National Abortion Federation's own suggested safety regulations! The same people who claimed they had standards of care didn't want to be held accountable to their very own standards! For several years The Family Foundation has advocated for common sense standards of care for women who go to abortion centers in Virginia. These facilities essentially are unregulated, viewed as doctor's offices by state regulators, instead of as the outpatient surgery centers they are.

Of course, the abortion industry, led by the $1 billion behemoth Planned Parenthood, NARAL and the ACLU have  fought desperately against even the simplest of regulations, such as licensing and inspections of abortion centers, and a requirement to have resuscitation equipment on premises.

In recent years, opponents to safety have championed the so-called NAF standards as proof that no state regulations are needed. A thorough review of NAF's "standards," however, reveals that they are even less protective than the one requirement we do have in Virginia — that a doctor must perform the abortion procedure. Incredibly, NAF would allow nurses to perform this invasive surgery. (With fewer doctors willing to perform abortions, the industry is getting desperate.)

Arizona's new regulations include a proposal that The Family Foundation  also has supported, that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges at an accredited, local hospital. Decent medical care requires that a doctor performing a surgery should have some responsibility for follow up care should something go wrong. This is the very least we can do to ensure women’s health. Again, this proposal has not seen support in the General Assembly.

The Arizona regulations were instituted after a woman died at an abortion center due to substandard care — the doctor involved was convicted of manslaughter in the case! Sadly, the death of a woman in Virginia a few years ago resulted in no outrage from women's advocates in the General Assembly. In fact, it met with a shrug and "no" votes against better standards. Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) shouted "That [death] has been beaten to death here" during debate over abortion center safety in one Senate Education and Health Committee meeting.

However, there may be hope in the future, given a recent legal opinion issued by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. The Family Foundation once again will support abortion center safety standards in the upcoming 2011 General Assembly session. We owe it to the women of Virginia.