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Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Virginia Department of Health
State Board of Health
Regulations for Licensure of Abortion Facilities [REPEALED] [12 VAC 5 ‑ 412]
Action Amend the Regulation after Assessment and Receipt of Public Comment
Comment Period Ends 10/31/2018
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10/31/18  6:49 am
Commenter: Galina Varchena, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia

Comment on NOIRA: Periodic Review of Chapter 412, Regulations for Licensure of Abortion Facilities

TO: Dr. Norm Oliver; Virginia Board of Health 

RE: Chapter 412. Regulations for Licensure of Abortion Facilities


NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia is the political and policy leader of the reproductive rights movement in Virginia. On behalf of thousands of our members and activists across the Commonwealth, we urge the Board of Health to amend the regulations for the licensure of abortion facilities, 12 VAC 5-412 and make it easier for women to access necessary abortion care.


There is not, and never has been, a medically-justifiable reason for imposing hospital-style regulations on the Commonwealth’s women’s health centers. Abortion is an incredibly safe outpatient procedure with a complication rate of less than one percent -- lower than the risk associated with tonsillectomy or wisdom teeth removal.[1] Like similarly-situated medical providers, abortion providers in Virginia are already subject to strict oversight from a variety of regulatory bodies, including the Department of Health Professions[2] and Virginia’s Board of Medicine.[3] Both agencies have licensing and enforcement authority, and both promulgate numerous regulations that dictate detailed, comprehensive standards of care.[4]  


With the passage of TRAP (“targeted regulation of abortion providers”) laws in 2011, abortion providers were singled out for targeted, politicized restrictions by the Virginia Department of Health. These restrictions were advanced and enacted with one goal and one goal only: to close women’s health centers and restrict Virginians’ access to safe, legal abortion. Again, evidence-based medicine provides absolutely zero justification for regulating abortion providers as a category of hospital – particularly when similarly-situated physician groups and providers are not regulated as such. We join Virginia’s medical community in our belief that medical regulations must be grounded in sound, evidence-based practice. Along with thousands of the Commonwealth’s doctors and medical professionals, we absolutely reject the necessity and validity of TRAP restrictions.


Virginia TRAP restrictions are not just unnecessary, they are unconstitutional. In the Supreme Court’s 2016 Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision, the Court ruled that medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion providers that confer no medical benefit place an unconstitutional undue burden on women seeking abortion.[5]


Because TRAP restrictions are neither medically nor legally valid, we hold that the entire TRAP statute and associated regulations (VA Code Ann. Sec. 32.1-127(B)(1); 12 VA Admin. Ann. Code Sec. 5-412 et. seq.) should be repealed. At a minimum, the Board must immediately adopt amendments that ensure health center regulations are consistent with medical best-practice, adhere to legal guidelines, and protect abortion access in Virginia.

Thank you for your consideration,



Galina Varchena, Esq.

Policy Director

NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia


[1] Safety of abortion in the United States, Issue Brief #6, December 2014, Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health.

[2] See VA Code Ann. Sec. 54.1-2400, -2505, -2506 et. seq.

[3] See VA Code Ann. Sec. 54.1-2400(7), - 2915(A)(6).

[4] See 18 Va. Admin. Code Sec. 85-20 et seq.

[5] Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, 136 S.Ct. 2292 (2016).


CommentID: 68565