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NPR All Things Considered: New Regulations Could Treat Virginia Abortion Clinics Like Hospitals

By Kathy Lohr

"This month marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the famed and widely cited case that legalized abortion. Yet across the country, states are continuing to approve restrictions.

With little fanfare, Virginia and Michigan Republican governors recently signed new abortion bills into law. Virginia's Bob McDonnell, in particular, quietly approved clinic regulations adopted by the state's Board of Health three months ago that hold abortion clinics to the same building standards as hospitals.

Julie Rikelman, litigation director of the Center for Reproductive Rights, argues that the law will force many clinics to rebuild or close. 'These kinds of harsh, strict regulations are not applied in any other medical context,' she explains. 'They're only applied to medical practices that also offer abortion services.'

Rikelman says the center is considering whether to file legal action in Virginia as it did in Kansas when a court in 2011 blocked enforcement of building regulations on existing clinics.

'The types of services that these centers provide include family planning services, abortion services," Rikelman says. They're the exact same type of services you get from your regular primary doctor in his or her regular physician's office, and there's absolutely no reason for those services to have to be provided in a hospital-type setting'."

Listen to the segment on NPR.org >