Throughout the entire multi-decade battle to ensure abortion centers have safety standards adequate to protect the moms that undergo this heart-wrenching procedure, the abortion industry and its sympathizers have made one resounding claim: Safety standards will result in the loss of access to abortion – and other medical services they claim to offer – as those centers, they claim, will close rather than comply.  While those who hold a pro-life perspective would not be disappointed if fewer unborn lives are lost, basic economics shows that if the “market” has a perceived need, it will adjust to new standards and the customer’s desires will still be serviced. 

Personally, I’ve had a hard time being concerned about abortion centers closing that are theoretically so broke they can’t ensure that the equipment used isn’t bloody, or the staff is actually trained in how to handle Schedule II narcotics.  Moreover, when Planned Parenthood continues to get approximately $500,000,000 annually from taxpayers—that’s half a Billion with a capital “B”—I figure they can have a couple of basic safety strings attached.  Then, when it was revealed recently that they spent nearly $750,000 in an unsuccessful effort to ensure Karen Handel didn’t get elected to Georgia’s congressional delegation, I continue to call this claim of non-access due to no money bunk. 

Now, it appears that even the McAuliffe administration doesn’t believe its own rhetoric on center closure.  The legal memorandum submitted recently by the AG representing the State Health Commissioner in the case Itzel Melendez v. Virginia State Board of Health that centers on the illegal process of watering down the abortion standards flies in the face of their access claim. 

In the brief, the Health Commissioner alleges that the appellants have no “standing” to petition the court. For non-lawyers, the government is arguing that none of the challengers have a right to be in court to contest the illegality of the regulation change process.  To have a right, one typically needs to be affected by the regulation changes.  This no-standing claim comes despite the fact that one of the four appellants, Itzel Melendez, is a woman of child-bearing years who has visited an abortion facility in the past and could desire their services again.  It clearly matters to this woman and a whole host of similarly situated women whether they could obtain a “safe abortion” under now-lessened standards.

In an irony of all ironies, in order to claim this appellant is unaffected, the Health Commissioner contends, “Further, alternatives for obtaining abortion services exist at hospitals licensed under 12 VAC 5-410 that offer such services and at any medical provider that performs fewer than five first-trimester abortions per month.” 

The abortion centers under regulation (or non-regulation depending on who is in the Governor’s mansion and on the Board of Health) are defined as facilities that perform more than 5 abortions a month and which are not a full-blown hospital, since those have greater standards already.  Bottom line, the Commissioner is essentially saying, if Itzel Melendez doesn’t want an unsafe abortion from the facilities that are in question, she can just go somewhere else.  Now isn’t that something, since the abortion industry has argued that “access” to abortion is at the center of their fight against the standards.