Women’s health advocates deliver thousands of comments

Posted at 1:33 PM, Mar 28, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-28 20:04:07-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va (WTVR) - More than 3,600 written public comments made their way to the State Board of Health Thursday morning. The comments are from people across the state who feel some in Virginia are putting politics before women's health.

Women's health advocates said they are opposed to the General Assembly's mandate that all health clinics - including those where abortions are performed - must meet strict hospital-like standards. Those standards cover everything from room sizes to the width of doorways.

Opponents to the mandate, who said they are fighting for women's health, said they fear if those regulations remain, many clinics would be required to have expensive renovations and could go out of business as a result.

"To be able today to come here to say as one very loud voice, women in Virginia won't stand idly by as these regulations are put through," Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates Cianti Stewart-Reid said. "The board has an opportunity to make sure we have access to these necessary women health services."

"In our pluralistic and wonderful democracy the governor does not get to pick and choose which constitutional rights are protected," Executive Director of primary care for the Virginia League of Planned Parenthood Dr. Wendy Klein said. "And the reproduction rights of the women of Virginia are protected."

During a public hearing earlier this month, supporter spoke out in favor of the regulations.

“Clearly the abortion industry is unable to self-regulate,” said Virginia Podboy, Associate Director of the Virginia Catholic Conference.

Following his monthly Ask the Governor radio segment today, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell addressed the delivery of the thousands of written public comments.

"We have multiple regulatory agencies in Virginia that after legislation is signed, the board has to craft the regulations and it is done over a lengthy period of time with amply opportunity for public" the governor said. "That's what going on today before they adopt the final regulations there's one final opportunity for public comment. I think that's what's going on."

The Board of Health already has given preliminary approval for the regulations, which took effect on an emergency basis January 1, 2012. The board is now scheduled to take a final vote on the regulations April 12.