Democratic lawmakers and women's rights advocates decried legislation, which was altered on the floor of the House earlier in the week through an amendment tacked onto an unrelated bill by Del. Kathy Byron, R-Campbell and came to the Senate without being debated or discussed in committee. They said it would effectively restrict a woman's access to abortion services by forcing the state's 21 clinics to meet standards set by the Board of Health regulating hospitals -- standards that include things like expanded hallways, parking lots and elevators that most clinics could not afford. Currently, first-trimester abortions are considered medical procedures that can be performed in physicians' offices, similar to medical procedures such as colonoscopies, vision correction surgery, cosmetic surgery and dental surgery. Abortions in the second trimester or later must be performed in a hospital setting.
The amended legislation would require that any medical office performing more than five first-trimester abortions per month be classified as a hospital and subject to regulations devised by the State Board of Health -- a body that is appointed by the governor. The vote followed a long and impassioned debate on the floor of the Senate, where Democrats hold a 22-18 majority. It was swung by the votes of two Democrats in moderately conservative districts -- Sen. Phillip P. Puckett, D-Russell, and Sen. Charles J. Colgan D-Prince William, a devout Catholic and longtime opponent of abortion. Neither rose to speak on the bill. The entire Senate and House of Delegates are up for election this fall.
I suppose if they can't outlaw abortion outright, limiting access is the next trick up their sleeve.