Washington Post: Closed Virginia Abortion Clinic a 'Victim' of New Regulations

"Virginia's assault on abortion claims a victim," lamented the WashingtonPost.com headline for an April 28 editorial -- headlined "Virginia's assault on abortion" in the print edition -- savaging the new regulations on clinics in the Old Dominion.

It seems the Post, generally no opponent of government regulation, is staunchly pro-free enterprise when the business in question is killing unborn children for a fee. Here's how the liberal editorial board began its overwrought piece:


At abortion clinics, the presence of awnings, the width of doorways and the dimensions of janitorial closets have little to do with the health of patients. But by requiring that Virginia’s 20 abortion clinics conform to strict licensing standards designed for new hospitals, the state has ensured that many or most of them will be driven out of business in the coming months.

If that's really the Post's beef, shouldn't the paper call for stripping requirements for covered entrances and wide hallways from the state's health regs on hospitals? Never mind that. The paper is too busy mounting its high horse to sally forth for the abortion lobby to be bothered with such a query.

The editorial board continued with its obituary for Norfolk's Hillcrest Clinic by bewailing the near-death state that the new regs have put other "small businesses" in the Old Dominion. Pity the mom-and-pop abortion mills that need to shell out thousands of dollars to add surgical sinks! (emphasis mine):

Hillcrest was partly a victim of its own success in providing women with ready access to birth control. Like most other clinics around the state, it saw demand for abortions dwindle as more women took advantage of options to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Still, even after years of protests, arson, a pipe bombing and an attack by a man wielding a semiautomatic weapon, Hillcrest performed more than 1,600 abortions last year, about 7 percent of the state total. The principal reason it closed its doors was that complying with the regulations would have saddled it with $500,000 in renovations — an unaffordable expense.

That’s precisely what Mr. Cuccinelli and other advocates of the policy intended. According to a survey by the state Health Department, just one of the 19 surviving clinics meets the requirements. Fifteen of the remaining facilities estimated their combined costs of compliance at $14.5 million.

Some of the clinics, including those operated by Planned Parenthood, which has a national fundraising network, will survive. Many others, which are run as small businesses, probably will not. Most have no means to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to widen corridors, install state-of-the-art surgical sinks and expand parking lots.

What’s more, the upgrades they face are arbitrary manifestations of the state’s overweening power. Other types of walk-in clinics, including those that perform oral and cosmetic surgery, are unaffected by the regulations.

As Dr. David Peters, owner of the Tidewater Women’s Health Center in Norfolk, told the Virginian-Pilot newspaper: “I can do plastic surgery. I can stick needles in babies’ lungs. I can put tubes up penises and into bladders and do all sorts of crazy stuff in my office with no regulations whatsoever. No government supervision. But for an abortion . . .it just becomes nonsensical.”

The Board of Health had sought to exempt existing abortion clinics from the regulations, which were never intended for ambulatory clinics. But board members caved when Mr. Cuccinelli, the most political attorney general in Virginia’s history, threatened to withhold the state’s legal help if they were sued.

Regulation is essential for all health services. But there is no evidence that unsanitary conditions or slapdash procedures are common at abortion clinics in Virginia nor that women who seek services from them are at risk. The state’s assault on women’s reproductive rights is an ideological crusade masquerading as concern for public health.

But wait, if most Planned Parenthood clinics will survive and they are allegedly the gold standard for abortion clinic "care," why is the Post so concerned? Isn't losing a few clinics a small price to pay for making sure the remaining few actually meet basic standards for medical care that you'd expect from an ambulatory clinic? A surgical abortion is an invasive surgical procedure that can have its attendant complications. How is it appropriate to have a clinic operating them that fails to meet the basic requirements of hospitals and ambulatory clinics?

Indeed, in the case that an abortion goes wrong and there are severe complications for the woman, or that a baby survives the abortion attempt, is it really too much to ask that the clinic Dr. Peters runs be up to code with both the personnel and the implements needed to treat the patient(s) with the proper care?

Apparently it is to the radically pro-choice editorial board at the Washington Post.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters