Kathleen Gilbert

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Virginia rally to urge governor to enforce new abortion clinic regulations

Kathleen Gilbert
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RICHMOND, Virginia, January 12, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Virginia pro-lifers are planning a demonstration Thursday to urge Republican Governor Bob McDonnell to implement health regulations that would protect the health of abortion-bound women and may even lead to the closure of sub-standard abortion mills in the state.

Virginia state delegate Robert Marshall has been encouraging participation in the rally, scheduled for 10:30am, in front of the state Capitol, as a means of reducing abortion in Virginia. He pointed to pro-abortion estimates that the proposed change to the regulations would lead to the shuttering of 17 of the state’s 21 abortion clinics.

In an August opinion upheld by the Fourth Federal Circuit Court in Richmond, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli stated that the Virginia Board of Health has the right to require abortion clinics, as is practiced in other states, to meet the regulatory standards of ambulatory surgery centers. Currently, Virginia abortion clinics must meet the lower standards reserved for less invasive types of health-related clinics.

The opinion raised the alarm of abortion groups, who said that such requirements would put a fresh cost burden on clinics where unborn children are killed. Liberals called the decision a product of Cuccinelli’s “extreme ideology” against abortion.

In an e-mail promoting Thursday’s rally, Marshall wrote: “America has lost over 52 million unborn lives since 1973, wreaking havoc on the moral and economic foundation of our nation, and causing real men and women in every community across our country to experience suffering and regret.

“Please join me in Richmond for the first ‘Rally for Life’ to witness to and protect the sanctity of every human life.”

Marshall also called on pro-lifers to urge their representatives to support his bill, HB 1440, which would give “preborn children the same rights as other persons under Virginia law.”

Among the listed participants in the rally are 40 Days for Life leaders Shawn Carney and David Bereit, Concerned Women for America, the Tepeyac Family Center, Silent No More, the Knights of Columbus, and Americans United for Life. Ralliers will also hear a recorded statement from Dr. Alveda King, pro-life advocate and niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

But not all are united in confronting the governor: the Washington Post reported Wednesday that both Cuccinelli himself and the pro-life Family Foundation declined to participate after discovering the rally was designed to pressure McDonnell.

“While Attorney General Cuccinelli is a long-time pro-life leader and is very supportive of the people redressing their grievances with their elected officials at a rally like this, he does not support calling on his client - the governor - to circumvent the normal public regulatory process, even for the most laudable of goals,’’ Cuccinelli spokesman Brian Gottstein told the Post.

“While this may be a favored approach to getting a more immediate resolution to the abortion clinic issue, the expanded use of this power - generally reserved for emergency situations - would set bad precedent, allowing future governors to abuse such a power.”

Family Foundation president Victoria Cobb, who met with criticism from some pro-life leaders for not joining the rally, said the group was open to criticizing McDonnell in principle, but because eleven of fifteen members of the state Board of Health were appointed by former governor Timothy Kaine, she claimed the effort was “a non-starter.” Kaine, a Democrat, has said he personally opposes abortion and favors some restrictions on the procedure, but opposes overturning Roe v. Wade.

“The regulations would not pass,’’ she said. “It simply isn’t going to happen. Some may prefer a more confrontational style, but it is obvious that this governor is not going to be confrontational.”

Governor McDonnell’s office did not immediately respond to LifeSiteNews.com’s requests for comment.

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