Cuccinelli Sets Up Fight Over Abortion Rules in Va.

Tuesday, 17 Jul 2012 12:16 PM

By Greg McDonald

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Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is accusing the state board of health of exceeding its authority by amending state abortion center regulations to make it easier for clinics to comply with strict building codes.

As a result the Republican is refusing to certify the board’s amended regulations, a decision that the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports could set up a “potential battle between those on both sides of the [abortion] issue, as well as moderates and conservatives on the board.”

The pending fight could get even more intense politically, given the fact that Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, who has just added a staunch anti-abortion doctor to the board, may have to make the final decision on certifying the regulations.

According to the Post-Dispatch, Cuccinelli notified Virginia Health Commissioner Karen Remley by memo on Monday of his decision not to certify the regulations. The memo, the newspaper said, was written by Senior Assistant Attorney General Allyson K. Tysinger, who was present and objected when the board adopted its amended regulations On June 17 by a vote of 7 to 4.

Abortion rights advocates have argued since the building regulations governing the clinics were passed earlier this year by the Republican-controlled legislature that they are designed for one purpose — to put clinics out of business because they cannot afford to retrofit the facilities.

Cuccinelli’s decision is expected to trigger an executive review that ultimately will lead to a final ruling by Gov. McDonnell. But McDonnell said Monday that he believes the original regulations passed by the legislature “were correct.”

“In due course, I’ll get [the board’s amended regulations] and make a comment on them and we’ll see what happens . . . But I certainly won’t approve legislation that isn’t faithful to the intent of the law, which I supported,” he said.

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