The new regulations would classify abortion facilities as hospitals and impose new licensing requirements. Foes call it an attempt to restrict access to abortion.

Acting in response to legislation passed by the General Assembly, the Virginia Board of Health approved emergency regulations Thursday that would classify facilities performing first trimester abortions as hospitals and impose new licensing and inspection requirements on providers.

The proposed regulations, which now go to Gov. Bob McDonnell for approval, impose new building standards and other requirements that abortion rights advocates characterized as a backdoor maneuver to restrict women’s access to a safe and legal procedure. If approved by the governor, the emergency regulations would take effect by the beginning of next year and remain in place until permanent regulations are enacted.

The board, made up mostly of health professionals, voted 12-1 to adopt the regulations, making only minor changes to draft rules developed by the Department of Health. Nine of the members voting Thursday were appointed to the board by McDonnell.

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