TWENTY CLINICS in Virginia performed slightly more than 25,000 first-trimester abortions in 2011. In carrying out that legal, safe and relatively simple procedure, there were very few reports of mishaps or complications. For the most part, patients were in and out of the clinics within two or three hours.
Nonetheless, in that same year Republicans in Richmond enacted legislation requiring stringent and unnecessary rules that would reclassify abortion clinics as the regulatory equivalent of hospitals. The likely effect of those rules, which Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) endorsed as quietly as possible last week, will likely be to force the closure of as many as half of the state’s clinics, which account for at least a third of Virginia’s abortions.
That means something on the order of 8,000 to 10,000 women will be unable to find nearby clinics if they want abortions. Their quest will be further complicated by rules requiring 24-hour waiting periods for abortions after initial examinations and newly mandated ultrasound procedures, which in some cases cannot be performed on the same day. Particularly in rural parts of the state, getting an abortion will become extremely difficult, if not impossible.