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Virginia TRAP Scheme Continues to Take its Toll

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Karen_Remley.jpegLeslie and Kate are members of NARAL Pro-Choice America's policy department.

For those of you following what seems like a never-ending battle against Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers (TRAP) in Virginia, last week we saw a sad footnote to the year-long saga.

After serving for five years as Virginia's health commissioner, Dr. Karen Remley resigned from her position. She pointed to the political process surrounding the state's new TRAP regulations as the reason.

A dedicated public servant first appointed by then-Gov. Tim Kaine (D), and reappointed by current Gov. Bob McDonnell (R)--Dr. Remley had clearly prioritized public health over politics in carrying out her duties, serving ably under two different administrations. However, she could no longer abide by the political meddling and the departure from sound science the TRAP scheme represented.

After we reported on the pro-choice victory this summer, anti-choice politicians forced the hand of the board of health, and it approved the TRAP regulations on September 26. Anti-choice Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli certified them immediately. The regulations are currently with Gov. McDonnell, who is certain to approve them.

In her letter to the governor, Dr. Remley said:

I personally committed to you when I accepted your appointment that I would lower abortion rates in our state by both the application of evidence based approaches and also the thoughtful implementation of abortion regulations if authorized to do so by the General Assembly and signed into law by yourself. I have honored those commitments on both accounts...Unfortunately, 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.

Despite claims that the TRAP regulations were motivated by concern for women's health and safety, this latest event proves that TRAP regulations are in no way related to public health.

Anti-choice politicians' attempts to close abortion providers in Virginia has been so overtly political that they ultimately drove out a dedicated public servant with an impeccable record for fairness and commitment to sound science.

Photo Credit: Virginia Department of Health
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