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VA. Abortion Clinics Renew Licenses as Groups Debate Regulations

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RICHMOND, Va. (WVIR) - All 18 abortion clinics in Virginia have renewed their licenses for the coming year. This comes as a drawn-out policy and political debate plays out over facility regulations.

A new report made public Thursday shows that while all abortion clinics in the commonwealth have their licenses until at least April of next year, most of them are still in limbo because of stricter rules ushered in under Governor Bob McDonnell's administration.

Pro and anti-abortion rights groups are both using the argument of women's safety to push their agenda. Meanwhile, the Virginia Board of Health continues to weigh what should and shouldn't be regulated in abortion clinics.

"It's absolutely wonderful that the women of Virginia know that those facilities will be in place," said Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia Executive Director Cianti Stewart-Reid.

Virginia has seen a dramatic shift in the direction of clinic regulations with the change-over from a Republican to a Democratic state leadership.

"Well we know that ultimately Governor McAuliffe received oodles of money from the abortion industry in his campaign, and that this is ultimately all a politically-motivated effort," said Family Foundation of Virginia President Victoria Cobb.

Pro-abortion rights groups have fought the hotly-contested rules dealing with building and construction requirements. "We aren't against regulations, we are against medically-unnecessary regulations," Stewart-Reid said.

Currently, 13 of the 18 clinics in Virginia have waivers through next April that allow them to stay open in spite of not meeting that code.

Attorney General Mark Herring (D) issued an opinion last month saying existing clinics should not need to follow those infrastructure standards.

The Board of Health voted last year to take another look at what regulations should remain in effect.

Some anti-abortion rights groups are opposed to loosening the rules.

"This is about the health and safety of women, and every woman should be able to trust that any facility that they walk into, is going to be safe," Cobb said.

However, both sides come together on one thing:

"Don't put politics ahead of women's health," said Stewart-Reid.

"Put politics aside," Cobb said.

Statistics from the report show a downward trend in complaints filed against abortion clinics in Virginia. Only one has been made against a provider since the Board's last meeting in March. Officials are investigating that complaint.

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