Ken Cuccinelli, an anti-abortion Republican, Monday informed the Virginia Health Department his office has concluded the state's Health Board lacks the legal authority to take an action he sees as conflicting with an applicable section of state law, after the board approved an amendment to permanent regulations that would exempt existing clinics from rigorous architectural standards in previously adopted rules, the Norfolk, Va., Virginian-Pilot reported Wednesday.
The proposed regulations force abortion clinics to adopt hospital design standards for operating-room size, hallway widths and other measures, the newspaper said.
The announcement was met with scorn from abortion rights activists as an assault on women's healthcare freedom.
"The attorney general has proven his only agenda for the abortion regulations is to assure they are the strictest and most costly in the nation," said Stephanie Arnold, a medical school student who set up a Web site critical of Cuccinelli's action.
"Everyone knows that if clinics have to somehow find $250,000 to unnecessarily upgrade, many will close their doors."