RICHMOND, Virginia, September 16, 2011 ( – The Virginia Board of Health approved new emergency regulations Thursday that could shut down abortion facilities across the state.

After four hours of debate, the board voted 12-1 to pass regulations that will require the state’s abortion facilities to implement safety standards comparable to hospitals.

These include requirements for hallway and doorway size that are designed to help emergency rescuers maneuver in and out of a building in the event of a medical emergency, as well as unannounced inspections, improved sanitary conditions, and emergency equipment for cardiac arrest, seizure, respiratory distress and other critical medical situations.

The regulations apply to all facilities committing five or more first-trimester abortions per month. Abortion advocates have complained that as many as 17 out of 21 Virginia clinics could shut down over the cost of implementing them.

Paulette McElwain, president and CEO of the Virginia League of Planned Parenthood, told the Huffington Post that none of their five facilities would meet the new requirements.

The regulations follow a bill mandating the regulations that passed in the Virginia General Assembly in February.  After Gov. Bob McDonnell signed it in March, the Board of Health had 280 days to craft the new regulations.

A Quinnipiac University poll this week found that 55% of Virginians favored the tougher abortion rules with only 22% opposing.

The temporary regulations will be sent for review to Gov. Bob McDonnell, and if approved, will take effect January 1.  After a year, they will be replaced by permanent regulations.


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