John Jalsevac

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40-year-old Virginian abortion facility closing after tougher regulations passed

John Jalsevac
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April 19, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The first abortion facility to open in southeastern Virginia after the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, will be closing on Saturday, after 40 years of performing abortions.

The closure of Hillcrest Clinic in Virginia Beach comes only days after Virginia’s Board of Health voted to implement a law passed by the state legislature in 2011, requiring abortion facilities “to meet strict, hospital-style building codes.”

The owners of the facility cited the expense of meeting the new regulations, as well as a drop in demand, for the decision to close the clinic. 

"It's a little bittersweet," said Suzette Caton, the director of the abortion facility. "But I also feel like for 40 years we've had the honor of providing compassionate care to the women of Tidewater who are facing an unplanned pregnancy. The staff upheld what the philosophy of the clinic was, and that was to ensure that women had access to a safe, legal abortion." 

Caton said that meeting Virginia’s new safety regulations would have cost the abortion facility somewhere in the range of half a million dollars in renovations. 

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Pro-life activists in the state celebrated the closure of the clinic. "This is a victory for expectant mothers and babies everywhere,” said Christine Ross of Concerned Citizens of Virginia Beach. 

Ross said she hopes the closure of the facility “will encourage doctors, nurses, and pro-life activists to continue their efforts to reform the medical industry and end abortion. It is an outrage that abortion mills continue to operate despite the Hippocratic principle of 'First, do no harm.''' 

During debate over the new abortion regulations abortion lobbyists had claimed that as many as 17 of the Virginia’s 21 abortion clinics may be forced to close due to the cost of improvements.

Last year, Virginia granted temporary preliminary licenses to 19 of the facilities, all of which are seeking to remain in business. The state gave the facilities two years to comply with the new regulations. The Hillcrest abortion mill is the only one not seeking renewal.

The Virginian-Pilot reports that the three remaining abortion mills in southeastern Virginia area are upgrading their businesses to comply with the new Virginia regulations. Planned Parenthood has already complied.

Correction: This article originally related an incident of an assault on a pro-life activists that took place at a Hillcrest clinic in Pennsylvania, not this clinic in Virginia. That portion of the article has been removed.

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