McDonnell Signs TRAP Bill, Unnecessarily Restricting Women’s Access to Reproductive Health Centers

The governor will ring in the new year with a bill that could close many of the clinics in the state.

Gov. Bob McDonnell. Photo: AP Photo via Politico.

Virginia reproductive health clinics are one step closer to possibly being regulated out of business, as Governor Bob McDonnell signs the highly controversial SB 924, a bill that will force clinics that provide abortions to be considered hospitals and adhere to those administrative and construction standards.

The TRAP law was previously approved by the Virginia Board of Health with a clause that would allow current clinics to be grandfathered in and avoid the new standards. However, after a refusal by the state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to sign the revised bill and a shakeup in appointments to the Board, that clause was removed in September under intense pressure from Cuccinelli, once again subjecting even existing clinics to the new, unnecessary, and exacting standards.

McDonnell’s move, although not unexpected, was still met with derision from reproductive rights groups hoping that the governor would put aside his attacks on women’s health after the results of the 2012 election showed how unpopular anti-women stances were with the general voting public.

“After two years of shocking backroom deals and bullying public health servants, Governor Bob McDonnell is clearly proving his disregard of Virginians’ opinions about women’s health care,” said Tarina Keene, chairwoman and executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia via email statement. “Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and McDonnell are clearly pushing an ideological agenda that is out of touch with the residents of this state – they have been using elected office to play political games with the health of women, and they may succeed in passing some of the most extreme state abortion laws in the country while ignoring the will of Virginians.”

The fight over the TRAP bill has been a long back and forth, and Governor McDonnell’s decision to sign the measure during the mostly unobserved holiday period is just the latest signal from Republican politicians eager to retain the loyal base of anti-choice advocates and voters, but anxious to try to appear moderate to mainstream constituents. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder also signed an onerous, unneeded TRAP bill into law over the holidays.