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ACLU of Virginia: Is SB 924 a “TRAP”?

Virginia’s Governor, Bob McDonnell recently signed a bill that will require the Virginia Board of Health to issue regulations requiring abortion clinics performing five or more first trimester abortions per month to be categorized as hospitals, per a press release at ACLU of Virginia’s website. 

ACLU of Virginia executive director Kent Willis was quoted as saying: “We are disappointed that the governor, like the General Assembly, decided to put politics above women’s constitutional rights and reproductive health. In signing this bill into law, Governor McDonnell has singled out abortion providers for completely unwarranted and burdensome regulations that could jeopardize the health of women, particularly those who are least able to afford medical care.”

SB 924 is an example of what is known as TRAP, or ‘targeted regulation of abortion providers.” Essentially, the legislation is intended to make abortions cost prohibitive, for both clinics and women.

The Education and Health Committee of the Virginia Senate has consistently voted against this type of legislation after it passed the House of Delegates. But these TRAP provisions bypassed them in the form of a House floor amendment that then went directly to the Senate floor.

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Ultimately, what types of regulations the Board of Health puts in place will determine the effect of the law. These regulations may include renovations to facilities, as well as increased standards for staff and equipment.

Willis was quoted as saying: “Whether or not there will be a legal challenge will depend on what the Board of Health does. We’ll be closely monitoring how the board proceeds with its deliberations, and while no one in state government is completely immune from politics, we are hopeful that professionalism will ultimately win out over politics.”

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