Virginia Health Board Votes to Roll Back Abortion Clinic Restrictions

Restrictions on Virginia abortion clinics may soon be reduced.

The state Department of Health voted on Monday to reject several regulations on the clinics. Board members voted 11-4 to loosen restrictions, one of which required clinics to follow the same building codes as full hospitals.

Dozens of people attended the meeting held in a hotel in Henrico, Virginia, and waited hours to speak during the public comment period.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe thanked the board for voting to change rules he said could have forced the closure of many abortion providers.

"I want to thank the Virginia Board of Health for working to repeal onerous regulations designed solely to reduce or outright remove access to essential reproductive health services for women across the Commonwealth," he said in a statement.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down provisions of a Texas law similar to Virginia's. The Texas law required clinics that provide abortions to meet the same building standards as ambulatory surgical centers, and required doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, as NBC News reported.

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the majority opinion: "...Neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes. Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a pre-viability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access, and each violates the Federal Constitution."

The public has 30 days to comment before McAuliffe can sign the changes into law.

Stay with News4 for more details on this developing story.

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