Virginia Women Under Attack

So says Tarina Keene, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, in an email yesterday.

Keene writes:

Last Thursday, Gov. McDonnell signed into law new, politically motivated regulations singling out first-trimester abortion providers. … [We] will not let this unrelenting attack on women’s health continue.

What is the latest salvo in this unrelenting attack of which she speaks?

New regulations, which hold abortion clinics to the same health and safety standards as other outpatient surgical facilities, were approved by the Governor last week. These regulations were authorized during last years General Assembly session, developed by the state Board of Health last year, released in September, reviewed by the Attorney General and approved by the Governor in the waning days of 2011.

In a statement dated December 29th, the Governor’s office noted that the authorizing legislation was adopted with bipartisan support in both houses and the draft regulations approved on a 12-1 vote by board members appointed both by McDonnell and former Gov. Tim Kaine.

Among other things, the regulations require that:
* Abortions shall be performed by physicians who are licensed to practice medicine in Virginia and who are qualified by training and experience to perform abortion procedures.
* A physician shall not perform an abortion without first obtaining the patient’s informed written consent.
* Prior to the initiation of any procedure, a medical history and physical examination, to include confirmation of pregnancy, shall be completed for each patient.
* An abortion facility that performs surgical procedures shall provide ongoing urgent or emergent care and maintain on the premises adequate monitoring equipment, suction apparatus, oxygen and related items for resuscitation and control of hemorrhage and other complications.
* An accurate and complete clinical record or chart shall be maintained on each patient.

The regulations apply to facilities that perform five or more abortions per month. Doctors offices that only perform occasional abortions are not required to comply with the new regulations. Starting in the second trimester of pregnancy, Virginia law requires abortions to be performed in a hospital.

The untold story is the “why” of these regulations, which have been working their way through the legislative process for over a decade.

* In 2002, a Northern Virginia woman died following an abortion performed by Dr. Mi Yong Kim. The Virginia Board of Health found her in violation of certain laws governing the practice of medicine and imposed certain conditions on her license. In 2007, after Dr. Kim violated those conditions, the Board of Medicine found that she had endangered patients and she surrendered her license with the understanding that it would not be re-instated in Virginia.
* Dr. Reffat Abofreka, whose license had already been surrendered or suspended in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and South Carolina, had his license suspended by the Virginia Board of Medicine in 2006 and his reinstatement request denied in 2009. In 2006, the Board of Medicine found that he provided substandard care and treatment to several women seeking abortions, endangering their health and lives.

In each of these cases, the Board of Medicine’s findings included breaches of the quality medical care which are standard for all abortion providers under the new regulations. Had similar regulations been enforced in Pennsylvania, another Virginia woman, Karnamaya Mongar, might not have died after her botched abortion.

Ms. Keene might wish to reconsider her definition of an “attack” on Virginia women. Perhaps the greater danger to women occurs when unscrupulous abortion providers fail to take medically standard precautions to protect the safety of their patients. Or she might consider the terminal assaults on preborn girls and boys that occur in Virginia abortion clinics every day.