Last week, Governor Bob McDonnell signed off on regulations for Virginia’s abortion centers, causing the abortion industry in Virginia to go into hysterics.  Ironically, the day before the regulations went into effect, a Virginia abortion center owner was arrested for multiple counts of murder in Maryland – a state with lenient abortion laws. Last year, The Family Foundation discovered that Dr. Steven Brigham, who had been under investigation by authorities in New Jersey for starting late term abortions in that state and transporting the patients to his Maryland centers to complete the procedures, owned and operated two abortion centers in Virginia, one in Fairfax and one in Virginia Beach.  His websites advertised abortions “between 14-24 weeks” where the procedure is started in Virginia clinics and then patients are asked to “travel to…one of our other locations…for the completion of their procedure.”  Our research generated a news story in The Virginian-Pilot, and the fact that abortion centers in Virginia were operated by someone like Brigham was one of the reasons the General Assembly passed the requirement for emergency regulations.

The abortion industry has maintained throughout the debate over abortion center standards that abortion is “safe” and that there is no need for oversight.  We have argued that there is no way to know if the centers are safe because they have never been inspected.  Essentially, we have to take the word of the abortion industry that their facilities are safe.

Enter Dr. Brigham.  While to this point he has not been charged with any crimes in Virginia, his history of allegedly putting women at risk in multiple states combined with last week’s reports that he has been “charged with five counts of first-degree murder, five counts of second-degree murder and one count of conspiracy,” indicates someone who is not above running an abortion center that does not put women’s health and safety first.  Frankly, there is absolutely no way to know at this point if he didn’t do some of the same things in Virginia that he did in NJ and Maryland because before last week, abortion centers in Virginia operated outside the medical mainstream.

The abortion industry in Virginia, led by Planned Parenthood and NARAL, has yet to respond to the charges against Brigham.

The Family Foundation is thankful to Governor Bob McDonnell, Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and the General Assembly, each of whom played a role in passing the new regulations.  It is because of the Dr. Brighams of the world that these reasonable and common sense standards are necessary.

Like you, I don’t believe we can take the word of an industry, which includes Dr. Steven Brigham, that their facilities are safe.  Governor McDonnell included in his budget proposal funding for additional health facility inspectors at the Department of Health.  While we know abortion center inspections will not be the only sites reviewed by these new inspectors, it is our hope that one of the first facilities they visit are those owned and operated by Dr. Brigham.