by D.J. Rippert
By hook or by crook. Virginia’s two-faced Republicans often talk about the reverence they have for the U.S. Constitution. They do not believe that sneaky laws should be written that bypass the U.S. Constitution … unless, of course, those sneaky laws are designed to roll back Roe v. Wade. In Feb, 2011 the General Assembly passed legislation that changed the regulation of abortion clinics. For years, abortion clinics were regulated like doctor’s offices. The new law changed the approach to regulating the clinics like hospitals. At the time, people predicted that the new regulations could cause 17 of the state’s 21 clinics to be shut down. The law itself was the product of much procedural wrangling but ultimately reflected the beliefs of the majority of General Assembly members. A well-written description of the law and the procedural wrangling can be found here.
“We don’t get no respect”. The General Assembly law didn’t actually specify the new regulations that would be imposed on abortion clinics. Instead, the law instructed the Virginia Board of Health to write the regulations within 280 days of the law passing. That time came and went and the Virginia Board of Health produced the regulations. Uh oh, Spaghetti – O! The board voted by a 7 – 4 vote to exempt existing abortion clinics from the onerous construction-related requirements of the law. Once again, Virginia’s General Assembly has passed a controversial law and a person or organization outside of the General Assembly has balled up their metaphorical fist and punched the G.A. right in the mouth. This represents yet another example of the General Assembly Under Fire.
Cu – Cu – Cuckoo – Cinelli. In a predictable move Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has opined that the regulations do not comply with the law. Ironically, Cuccinelli’s opinion before the law was even passed was that the State Board of Health had a lot of latitude in developing regulations for abortion clinics. Now, it seems, the board has a lot of latitude to regulate as long as those regulations turn out to be what The Cooch wants.
Tagamet Bob to the Rescue. Krazy Kenny certainly has the right to opine on whether regulations meet the requirements of laws. However, that’s all he has the right to do — opine. Now the matter falls to Bob McDonnell. He’ll have to decide whether to accept the regulations or not One can easily imagine a bleary-eyed Gov. McDonnell reading the morning newspaper over a glass of Milk of Magnesia and a bowl of Tagamet. Each day his first sentence must be, “What has Ken done now?” followed immediately by, “Thank God this is a one-term position.” McDonnell is watching his political future evaporate as he once again must play nurse maid to a hopelessly dysfunctional General Assembly and an Attorney General who is starting to look a lot like Eddie Haskell – more of an annoyance than a danger, but one hell of an annoyance.