Pressure Builds For Cuccinelli to Break Silence On Legal Challenge As Hundreds Comment
Medical professionals and activists on both sides of the abortion debate are waiting for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to officially comment, and ‘advise’ the Board of Health, on a legal petition for regulatory action which would require all hospitals to make the same architectural changes being forced on abortion providers. The legal challenge already has 200 comments from citizens and health professionals. The Attorney General’s official opinion on the matter, contained in the Board of Health’s June 2012 meeting notes, mysteriously turned up missing last month when activists from OpposeTRAP tried to obtain them via a Freedom of Information Act request.
The lost notes contain the full transcript of the Senior Assistant Attorney General, Allyson Tysinger, advising the Board that the hospital licensure regulations would have to be amended because of inconsistencies with code section 32.12-127.001.* These notes were requested because the brief abstract of their content indicates that Cuccinelli’s office directly supports the position of the legal petitions: The Board of Health didn’t have the authority to exempt existing hospitals from Guidelines for new construction. With this position, Cuccinelli stands to find strong opposition among all categories of health care providers, which would be a major hit during an election cycle, as the ruling would necessitate almost every hospital (of all types) in the Commonwealth to make extremely costly architectural upgrades or close their doors. Cuccinelli’s opinion has already initiated a process which is expected to result in the closing of most abortion clinics in Virginia.
The petition itself is missing from the published agenda for the Board’s annual meeting scheduled for this Thursday, June 6th, 2013. The meeting, held at the Perimeter Center in Henrico, VA, will be the last annual meeting for board member James Edmondson, a long-time advocate for rational regulations, who has acted as a voice of reason throughout the two-year debate. OpposeTRAP learned that Mr. Edmondson has requested a special meeting to address the petition specifically, as allowed in Article II, Section 4, of the Board of Health bylaws. Upon contact, Mr. Edmondson expressed regret that the appropriately apolitical Board of Health has been forced to make judgments between obviously political and obviously public health issues over the last two years, to the detriment of the women of the Commonwealth.
Molly Taylor Vick, an organizer with OpposeTRAP, does not believe that the Attorney General can be consistent and stand by his decision without turning to nonsensical arguments. Vick, who submitted the Freedom of Information request, was especially interested in the missing notes for more details of Ms. Tysinger’s explanation that all abortion facilities should be considered new facilities because they had not been previously regulated or licensed. “Of course Cuccinelli can’t afford to shut down hospitals and health care centers – either financially or politically. He will have to continue with this ridiculous claim that abortion clinics are ‘new’ just because he just started calling them hospitals. It’s an absurd argument, and one that runs counter to all precedence I’ve identified.” Oppose TRAP released the following comic this week, which is going viral among abortion rights advocates across the state:
[ Click the comic to zoom in, and to share on Facebook, go here! ]
Content from a 06/04 Oppose TRAP Press Release.
Contact: Molly Taylor Vick
Phone: (804) 514-0227