On Wednesday Governor McAuliffe appointed an abortion rights advocate and former lawmaker to the Board of Health, reports The Washington Post. This decision came just in time for Thursday’s scheduled vote regarding whether the commonwealth will start to overhaul abortion provider regulations.
The Board of Health is to make a decision on whether or not they should amend abortion clinic rules, which would include their tough, hospital-style building codes which abortion rights activists contend threaten to block access to the state’s remaining clinics.
Advocates who are opposed to abortion hold that the strict codes are in place to ensure safety for women as well as access for emergency personnel. Some are still hopeful that a review of the current regulations would result in even stronger restrictions on clinics, rather than weaken them.
Abortion has long been a polarizing issue for Virginia lawmakers. The Board of Health’s vote, which would begin a long process, represents the newest chapter of this struggle.
McAuliffe’s appointment of Mary Margaret Whipple, a 15-year General Assembly veteran from Arlington, strengthens the chances there will be a vote to overhaul.