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Challenge To Virginia Abortion Regulations Goes Forward

The court challenge to Virginia's abortion regulations is going forward over the objections of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
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The court challenge to Virginia's abortion regulations is going forward over the objections of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

An Arlington judge is allowing a lawsuit filed by a Falls Church abortion clinic over strict new regulations to go forward.

The Virginia Board of Health, supported by Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, asked the judge to toss out the lawsuit filed earlier this year by the Falls Church Healthcare Center. But the judge said he wants the lawsuit to get a full hearing, so that appellate courts can ultimately decide the fate of the strict new regulations on abortion clinics.

In April, the Board of Health gave final approval to new regulations that would require that abortion clinics meet the same strict building standards as newly constructed hospitals. They had previously been regulated as outpatient clinics, and the expectation was that these regulations would cause most of the state's existing clinics to close.

Lawyers for the clinic say there is no medical justification for the new rules.

The judge's decision comes in the heat of a political campaign in which Cuccinnelli has been struggling with women voters.

"If you are losing women by 20 points, and they typically make up a slight majority of the electorate, so I expect that this would hurt Cuccinelli more," says Geoff Skelly, an analyst with the University of Virgina Center for Politics.

University of Mary Washington professor Stephen Farnsworth agrees.

"The most effective way for a Republican candidate to win statewide is not talk about social issues," Farnsworth says. "And so every day that the Virginia campaign focuses on abortion is a bad day for Ken Cuccinelli."

The election is less than four weeks away.

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