The bill was read for the second time and engrossed today, which means it will likely come up for a full vote in the House tomorrow. As reported by the AP:
The bill by Henrico County Delegate John "Jack" Reid would require any clinic that performs 25 or more first-trimester abortions a year to be licensed and meet the same standards as ambulatory surgery centers.
The clinics now are treated like doctors' offices and are not routinely inspected by the state. The House has overwhelmingly passed similar legislation two years in a row only to see it killed by a Senate committee. Reid says the intent of the bill is to see that abortions, "are performed in as sterile and as safe an environment as possible."
Fairfax Delegate Vivian Watts says there are dozens of other procedures done at doctors' offices that are as invasive as abortions. She says the intention of the bill, "is to significantly reduce the number of abortions by making them extremely expensive." A final House vote is expected Tuesday.
Ben Greenberg of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia explains in an article in the Lynchburg News & Advance that the burden these new regulations would have on existing reproductive health clinics in Virginia:
“They would either have to build a new facility, which we know can cost between $1.5 million and $2 million, or they would have to completely restructure their current offices to meet those requirements, which would be incredibly costly, or go out of business."
The "go out of business" part is exactly what opponents of access to reproductive health care are seeking. The Richmond Times-Dispatch also covers the story, with more useful quotes from Delegate Watts and Delegate Sickles:
Del. Vivian E. Watts, D-Fairfax, said if the concern truly were public health, legislators would make sure all plastic surgery, colonoscopy procedures, wisdom-tooth removal and dozens of other invasive medical procedures were subject to similar oversight.
"The fact that this bill is only going after one procedure indicates clearly what it is about," Watts said.
Del. Mark D. Sickles, D-Fairfax, said House members were sending a conflicting message by supporting legislation that permits state licensing of non-nurse midwives who assist in home births, a riskier situation than a first-trimester abortion.
In the Lynchburg article, note that Delegate Dick "Baby Pesticides" Black has broken out his trusty plastic fetus dolls in the House yet again. Aside from playing with larger dolls this time, he also compares abortion to "what happened during the Holocaust". (One wonders if Holocaust survivors may have opinions on that one?) Don't forget, David Poisson is running against "Baby Pesticides" Black in the 32nd and needs our support.
Delegate Vivian Watts (D-Annandale) correctly points out that "Baby Pesticides" Black's fetal pain bill defines a fetus as "a member of the species homo sapiens from fertilization until birth", once again attempting to establish a legislative definition of that would, in effect, classify birth control methods such as oral contraceptives, emergency contraceptives, and IUD's, which may prevent implantation of a fertilized egg, as abortion methods. Like Delegate Devolites-Davis, Dick "Baby Pesticides" Black forgoes established medical definitions in favor of his own ideological ones.
Please read these bills yourself and make sure your legislators know your opinions on this legislation before it is too late to make a difference.
UPDATE: Matt Hupp from Henrico will be stepping up to run against Jack Reid, who ran unopposed in 2003. Go Matt!