Richmond, VA – The Virginia State Health Commissioner, Dr. Karen Remley, resigned her post today citing the controversial regulations governing women’s health centers that perform abortions.
“We have great respect for Dr. Remley’s decision,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire G. Gastañaga. “We imagine it was a difficult decision for her to make and as a public servant, we understand that taking such a principled stance involved a great personal sacrifice.”
As Commissioner of the Department of Health, Dr. Remley was appointed by Governor Tim Kaine and reappointed by Governor Bob McDonnell and was confirmed by the legislature. The Commissioner serves at the pleasure of the Governor.
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Dr. Remley wrote in her letter to colleagues: “how specific sections of the Virginia Code pertaining to the development and enforcement of these regulations have been and continue to be interpreted has created an environment in which my ability to fulfill my duties is compromised and in good faith I can no longer serve in my role.” The Attorney General threatened to deny legal representation to the public citizens serving on the Board of Health if they did not approve regulations applying stringent new construction requirements to existing health care facilities providing abortion care in the Commonwealth.
“The war on women continues, and has now pushed out the Virginia health commissioner, who was dedicated to public health,” said Kathy Greenier, Director of the Patricia M. Arnold Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU of Virginia. “The casualties are public health in general and women’s health in particular. The Commissioner’s decision confirms that throughout the regulatory process, anti-abortion ideology and political agendas overruled the expertise of physicians and health care professionals regarding common sense rules to protect women’s health.”
“Virginia is clearly singling out women’s health centers that provide abortion care,” added Greenier. “The regulations as approved by the Board in September exclude a ‘grandfather clause’ for existing facilities performing abortions, which puts them out of line with how regulations are applied to every other kind of health care facility.”
ACLU of Virginia Contacts: Claire G. Gastañaga, Executive Director Katherine Greenier, Women’s Rights Project Director Office: (804) 644-8022