Cuccinelli starts the wheels turning -- again
Sometimes politics is like a Rube Goldberg machine. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli usually sets Virginia's ball in motion, triggering a predictable chain of events.
The sequence goes like this:
1. Cuccinelli issues an opinion or files a lawsuit.
2. Right away, Del. Bob Marshall strongly and publicly supports it.
3. Democrats such as Sen. Creigh Deeds and Del. David Englin spread their frustration all over Twitter.
4. Sometime later, Gov. Bob McDonnell issues a cautious and qualified statement that sounds as moderate as possible while still supporting the AG.
Looks like that cycle has started again after Cuccinelli issued a new legal opinion last week. He says the Board of Health has the authority to treat abortion clinics the same as hospitals when it comes to equipment and space regulations. Right now, the clinics fall under rules similar to those for offices where patients receive oral or plastic surgery, reported The Post's Anita Kumar.
What's the precedent for more restrictions? Cuccinelli cites a 2002 case in South Carolina, in which an appeals court -- and then the U.S. Supreme Court -- upheld a law allowing tighter regulations on clinics performing first-trimester abortions.
If the Board of Health follows the AG's recommendation, 17 of 21 abortion providers in the state may have to close their doors.
Cuccinelli's opinion came Friday. This morning, Marshall sent a letter to the governor in support of more regulations.
"I hope that you will do what you can to ensure that the women of Virginia are protected from dangers such as out-of-state physicians whose licenses are suspended or revoked elsewhere ... and sending women to hospitals in private vehicles and other unsafe conditions which compromise public health that occur at some abortion clinics in Virginia," Marshall wrote.
The South Carolina lawsuit was upheld because clinics were committing serious health violations. Whether or not that's the case in Virginia, it's probably not what prompted Cuccinelli's opinion.
But, as with everything Cuccinelli does, the opinion will drive conversation -- and tweets -- in Virginia. And it will give McDonnell another response to carefully craft.
Paige Winfield Cunningham is an investigative reporter and managing editor at Old Dominion Watchdog. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.
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