By Elliott Francis
Currently there are 21 abortion clinics in Virginia. Abortion service providers say at least 17 of those might shut down if state officials use their authority to regulate those clinics.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says abortion clinics provide many other medical services beyond abortions, so they're subject to the same regulations as larger medical facilities.
That opinion was issued in response to a request from Virginia State Senator Ralph Smith, who says his only interest is to protect the health of the patient.
"I certainly feel that for the safety of all involved that they should be as regulated as other procedures," says Smith.
For most clinics, meeting a higher regulatory standard could mean additional equipment or space renovation.
Tarina Keene director of NARAL Pro-choice Virginia says the cost involved could drive some clinics out of business, and the opinion issued by the AG has little to do with safety.
"Tell me about the last time you've heard about an abortion in the state of Virginia that's gone wrong, you haven't heard it. This is a way to circumvent the legislature and implement an ideological agenda," says Keene.
The opinion provides legal guidance but does not require action.