Virginia TRAP Law Will Force Women’s Health Clinics to Close


Last Friday, the Virginia Board of Health decided by an 11-2 vote to approve regulations on abortion providers. These regulations are known as TRAP (Targeted Regulations on Abortion Providers). TRAP does nothing to make the abortion procedures or clinics more safe—they’re just a tactic to close these clinics.

TRAP laws will require first-trimester abortion clinics to meet the same standards as outpatient hospital facilities. The apparent value of this legislation doesn’t sound that terrible. I think we can all agree that we want medical facilities, of all types, under some level of safety and health standard. But TRAP doesn’t change anything about the environment inside the clinic.

Instead, it enforces architectural regulations.

What? These clinics, in order to meet these regulations, have to renovate the widths of their doors, their halls, and even increase the number of parking spots they have. Although Virginia politicians say that these regulations will make abortion safe in Virginia, it will just force clinics who can’t afford to renovate to close.

These regulations aren’t for other health clinics that provide outpatient medical services like vasectomies or colonoscopies. TRAP only applies to abortion clinics. Nearly 200 doctors criticized these regulations for being political and not at all about safety or health. Even the former Virginia Health Commissioner resigned over TRAP. The majority of Virginians oppose these regulations. Unfortunately, proponent Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli threatened the Board of Health by sending them a memo saying that he would deny them legal counsel and services from the Commonwealth if they did not pass TRAP. Thanks to Cuccinelli’s bullying, the Board of Health buckled.

Look Virginia, I get it you’re on a crusade to end abortion in the Commonwealth. But placing burdensome, politically-motivated, and unnecessary regulations on first-trimester abortion clinics won’t make women not have abortions; it’ll just make it less safe for them. Want to end abortion? Have better comprehensive sex education or have better access to birth control – you know, things that will actually help decrease abortions. If you really wanted to make sure women were safe and healthy, you wouldn’t take away access to safe, legal medical procedure.