Falls Church Healthcare Center filed a petition for appeal this week against the Virginia State Board of Health stating that new building codes affecting abortion clinics, permitted under Republican leadership in Richmond, are “arbitrary and capricious” and lack grounding in appropriate medical and public health standards.
The new regulations require facilities that perform five or more first-trimester abortions per month to meet building standards on the level of hospital as opposed to outpatient clinic.
For more than 10 years, the South Washington Street facility in Falls Church has provided gynecological and obstetric medical care to women, including abortions. Its clients include women with no insurance and low income.
The regulations would require changes to the clinic such as widening hallways, providing staff showers, and increasing the number of parking spaces, among others. The appeal states that the “prohibitively expensive” changes to the Falls Church facility are estimated at $447 per square foot of the 5,000-square-foot clinic, and that moving to a new clinic could cost Falls Church Healthcare Center $60,000 to $80,000 more in rent per month.
“The intent behind these regulations are to close these facilities,” former Falls Church City Manager David Lasso told the News-Press. Lasso, with the law firm Venable, is part of the team representing Falls Church Healthcare Center.
A press release regarding the appeal states “Falls Church Healthcare objects to regulations that impose physical and administrative standards that are not grounded in medical need or sound medical practices and are inappropriate for out-patient care especially when provided in a doctor’s office.”
“It’s an example of government overreach, and regulations that are intended to run these facilities out of business,” Lasso said.
Falls Church Healthcare Center, after meeting Emergency Regulations adopted by the Board in 2011 that set standards specifically for abortion facilities, gained a license to operate as an abortion facility valid through April 30, 2014, and continues to see patients.