Last month Virginia Democrats let an anti-abortion bill pass, in a chamber they controlled, that could lead to the closing of 17 of the state's 21 clinics. This weekend, Tarina Keene of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia sent around three stories that show just how dire their situation is.
1) The new law governs the clinics as though they were hospitals, with regulations that many of the older, smaller clinics can't afford to meet. Instead of the usual two years for new rules to take effect, the law calls for rules to be written within 280 days from the time the governor signs it. The new rules will get moved through as emergency regulations, subject to review and rewriting by the anti-abortion Governor Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and put in place by January 1.
2) When this bill idea came up last year, clinic operators felt more secure because Democrats control one chamber of the legislature and the state Board of Health. The first proved no protection, and now Republican Governor McDonnell is on the verge of moving the board into a GOP majority. The public gets one opportunity for comment, when the board votes on September 15. "The governor can have just as much power over this as he wants to," Ms. Keene tells the Washington Post.
3) The clinic operators might sue, and the rules might get revised under a longer, non-emergency review. But it won't matter to the clinics (and the women who need them) if the emergency rules have already run them out of business. "This is going to happen so very fast," Planned Parenthood's Paulette McElwain tells the WaPo. "There's very little we can do."