Ex-Va. health commissioner: Leaving job was most difficult decision

Posted at 2:42 AM, Jan 21, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-21 02:42:47-05

(WTVR) — The former State Health Commissioner, who resigned last year over Virginia’s new abortion regulations, is opening up about the departure to a Virginia newspaper.

The Virginian Pilot reports that Karen Remley said she felt the new regulations, which hold the state’s existing abortion clinics to the same standards as newly constructed hospitals, made it impossible for her to do her job. [READ MORE: Va. health commissioner resigns over abortion clinic regs]

Ultimately, Remley said her decision to quit came down to advice she had given her two daughters. 

“I couldn’t tell them to stand up for what they think is right if I didn’t do it myself,” Remley told the newspaper. 

Remley said she believes Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli went too far in interpreting the new abortion clinic regulations.

That rift came after the Board of Health included an exemption for the state’s existing 20 clinics.

Remley said she felt that interpretation was permissible because the code’s language mentioned clinics must be “consistent” with architectural standards. In that sense, she felt that the Board of Health had cause to include the exemption, but said that the attorney general was focused on the regulation’s “comply” language.

Later, five Board of Health members switched their original votes after Cuccinelli warned the board of possible lawsuits over the abortion vote.

Conservative groups charged that Remley’s resignation, which came just three weeks before the November election, was a political statement. On the other hand, pro-choice group’s lauded Remley’s decision to step down.

Read more on this story from the Virginian Pilot: Ex-Va. health director cities conscience for quitting