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February 12, 2015

Over 1,500 Virginians submitted comments in support of amending current restrictions on women’s health care centers

Richmond, VA – The Virginia Coalition to Protect Women’s Health today released its public comment detailing the amendments necessary to ensure regulations for women’s health centers are medically sound and not based on political motivations. The 30-day public comment period, which concluded yesterday, followed the Board of Health’s December 4, 2014 decision to amend medically unnecessary restrictions on women’s health centers.  More than 1,500 Virginians responded in support of amending the existing restrictions. The comments included several letters from medical professionals who assert the restrictions are medically unnecessary and a barrier to women receiving critical comprehensive care.

“As an Ob/Gyn for over 25 years, I understand the importance of safety precautions to protect patients. The regulations as written do not increase protection of women's health," said Dr. Kris Kennedy’s public comment encouraging the Board to make amendments in line with the advice of medical experts. “By creating onerous regulations that far exceed regulations required for facilities performing procedures of similar risk, these regulations will require closure of many facilities with clear documentation of quality and safety. This will result in denial of access for many other kinds of healthcare services to women, such as cancer screening and birth control.”

The Virginia Coalition to Protect Women’s Health submitted a public comment concerning the most serious issues with the current restrictions, including the medically unnecessary architectural requirements and the insufficient protections of patient and provider safety and confidentiality.  The Coalition also offered specific amendments for the Department of Health and Board of Health to consider when addressing the most concerning elements of the current restrictions.

“As a women’s health provider, I welcome oversight and regulations that protect patient safety and ensure the well-being of Virginia women,” said Elizabeth VanderWoude, a women’s health provider in Virginia. “But these current restrictions do nothing to ensure public health, and instead actually endanger thousands of Virginia’s women and families by restricting access to critical medical care. I am proud to have joined the comment submitted by the Virginia Coalition to Protect Women’s Health and I urge the Board to continue heeding the advice of medical experts and ensure that the updated regulations protect patient safety and increase access to care.”

Click here for The Virginia Coalition to Protect Women’s Health's public comment.