New Virginia law could force closing of abortion clinics

When the calendar turns to 2012, a new law goes into effect in Virginia that will impact the health care of women.

The law adds restrictions to abortion clinics and could make it far more difficult for women to get an abortion.

Many abortion clinics across Virginia could be forced to shut down under stringent new regulations. Governor Bob McDonnell approved the stricter standards, but pro-choice activists say they're nothing more than a political ploy.

Planned Parenthood of Falls Church is one of Virginia's 120 abortion clinics that must meet new rules on staffing levels, medical supplies and even architectural standards.

David Christensen with the pro-life organization, Family Research Council in D.C., says the regulations approved this week are aimed at protecting women's health.

"Well, we don't think women's health should be sacrificed on the altar of the pro-abortion agenda and should have less safety measures than veterinary clinics and health spas," he says.

Pro-choice activist Tarina Keene says this is all about politics.

"I can tell you right now, this has nothing to do with women's health and safety," she says.

Keene says there is not a single abortion clinic in Virginia that can meet the new standards that regulate, among other things, the width of hallways, the exact location of bathrooms, and even the number of parking spaces.

And Keene says it's the many lower income women who depend on these facilities that will pay the price.

"They won't have access to family planning or low cost birth control or to pre and post natal care they count on or even their annual exams," Keene says.

ABC7 talked with Virginians about the new regulations and got some very different opinions.

Right now abortion clinics are regulated the same as cosmetic surgery centers, dentist's offices and Lasik eye surgery facilities. Under the new rules they would be regulated the same as hospitals.