By DAWN GOOGE
It’s a sad, sad day when the needs of the masses are usurped by the politics of those in power; when medical necessity is overlooked by ideology, and when medical professionals put their best interests above those of the patient.
All of these monstrosities took place on Sept. 15, when the Board of Health passed the draft of new regulations on clinics that offer first-trimester abortions.
Architectural requirements for larger (and largely unrelated to the services they provide) examining rooms and hallways are proving a difficult feat to comply with for most clinics, whose buildings are not standardized to these new architectural codes. This forces an unacceptable number of them to shut down or refrain from offering first-trimester abortions to scoot around the flawed system.
Other proposed regulations would allow employees from the Department of Health to gain full access to patient records without requiring any identification on their part to the employees of the clinics.
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has gone on record repeatedly stating his pro-life perspective, so his actions for new regulations on “abortion clinics” were not wholly unexpected. The regulations, typically imposed on new clinics, are now being forced upon clinics that have been operating for years.
I attended the Board of Health meeting with eight other Mary Washington students, dressed in purple (the color of women’s health and reproductive rights) to show our opposition to the regulations being drafted, but upon arrival we quickly realized that we were not alone.
The room was bustling in a sea of purple, men and women alike, to demonstrate their support for their rights to accessible and safe women’s health clinics. About an hour into the meeting, the Board of Health Chairman opened the floor to the public and allowed their voices to be heard.
The first few speakers were avid proponents of the regulations, making claims on morality and poor building codes. They mentioned nothing about how new costs will limit access to these resources, especially for women from lower socioeconomic statuses and subsequently women of color.
Those who approved of the regulations said nothing of the quality of the other kinds of care offered at these clinics such as sexually transmitted infection testing, cancer screenings, family planning, prenatal care, preventative care and more. It’s not surprising that a McDonnell-appointed board, composed of primarily white middle-aged men, would rule in favor of purely political regulations.
By deeming it emergency legislation, McDonnell and the board are effectively restricting the opportunity for the public to weigh in on this decision and possibly push for a dismissal of the regulations, or at least adding amendments to not force the closure of 17 out of 21, clinics offering abortions in the state of Virginia.
But, I guess it’s just politics as usual.