RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) — Virginia’s two Catholic bishops criticized Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s order that the Virginia Board of Health review abortion clinic health and safety regulations adopted last year.
Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of Richmond and Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington said in a May 12 statement that the regulations are needed “for the safety of women” since previous inspections uncovered “hundreds of safety violations.”
The bishops quoted McAuliffe from his announcement ordering the review earlier the same day. “This is not just a health issue — it’s an economic issue,” the governor said. “In order to grow and diversify our economy, Virginia needs to be open and welcoming to all, and we need to ensure that all Virginia women have access to the health care resources they need.”
“Abortion is not health care because it does not save lives; it ends them,” Bishops DiLorenzo and Loverde said in their statement. “However, since abortion operates under the guise of health care in this country, the abortion industry must be properly regulated for the safety of women.”
They noted that past inspections of clinics “revealed hundreds of safety violations at clinics throughout the state, including one clinic that performed abortions on two young teenage girls without their parents’ consent.
The bishops said the regulations currently in place “are not ‘extreme and punitive,’ as the governor asserts.”
The Virginia Board of Health voted in April 2013 to require clinics that perform abortions to meet strict, hospital-style building codes. Two years earlier the Virginia General Assembly voted to regulate abortion clinics like outpatient surgical centers.
“Moreover, we are very troubled by the suggestion that Virginia’s current safety protections for women are somehow inconsistent with being ‘open and welcoming to all’ or with having a strong economy,” the bishops said. “While we hear that these regulations are onerous and expensive, we believe all women deserve nothing less. Regardless of the cost to abortion centers to implement these regulations, women’s safety should be of paramount importance.”
The bishops urged McAuliffe “to ensure that this review focuses on the paramount importance of Virginia women’s health and safety.”
They said that as bishops, “whose faith centers on the dignity of all human life,” they will continue to work “to ensure that when women tragically turn to abortion centers they don’t also jeopardize their own lives.”
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