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Virginia Board Of Health Challenges New Abortion Regulations

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A battle over abortion regulations in Virginia is heading to court.
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A battle over abortion regulations in Virginia is heading to court.

The politics of abortion will be heating up this summer in Virginia as a set of controversial new regulations targeting abortion clinics are challenged in court and by the Board of Health.

This August, a line attorney who works for Attorney General Mark Herring will be in court to defend the Board of Health in a lawsuit challenging the new regulations—a set of rules that critics say were designed to shut down the 18 clinics licensed in Virginia. But by the time the court hears arguments in the case, the board of health will have five new members appointed by Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe, including McLean developer James Edmondson.

"I would suspect where we might be headed is significant alterations to the regulations that would make it unnecessary for clinics that are otherwise qualified to close down," says Edmondson.

The General Assembly approved the regulations in 2011, when Republicans held the governor's office and the attorney general's office. Now Democrats have taken both those positions, and the power that comes with them.

"The first rule of politics is to the victors belong the spoils, and when you win a governor's election you can control these appointments and you can shape the regulation of the health-care industry as well as other industries," says University of Mary Washington professor Stephen Farnsworth.

For now, the new regulations are set to take effect as early as June.

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