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Falls Church Healthcare Center Files Legal Challenge To New Abortion Regulations | Politics

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Falls Church Healthcare Center Files Legal Challenge To New Abortion Regulations

FALLS CHURCH, Va.  (WUSA) -- "If citizens don't stand up when government does something wrong, then government will continue to do something wrong," said Rosemary Codding, the director at the head of the Falls Church Healthcare Center. 

It provides medical services, including abortion, for women. 

The clinic may be the first in the nation to take legal action of this kind against new abortion regulations.

The Center has filed an administrative appeal against the Virginia Board of Health, the Department of Health and Virginia State Health Commission Cynthia Romer over the regulation's orders concerning building codes. Those new rules would require nearly impossible, and cost prohibitive changes such as adding more parking spaces outside. They also require new non-porous ceilings and showers for staff members.

"Just to do that would cost $60,000," said Codding, referring to the shower and staff room she'd have to create in the space she does not have.

Her appeal argues that the regulations are so onerous, that they will force hers, and many small businesses to close. 

"The Board of Health did not follow that review. They didn't give us an alternative to meeting the regulations that would not endanger our business or endanger our employees or the vendors that we use," explained Codding.

The appeal says that the Board of Health violated an executive order by Governor Bob McDonnell which requires state agencies to look into how new regulations would impact small businesses and provide alternatives when necessary.

The appeal mentions Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli several times and criticizes the legal advice his office gave to the Board of Health.

A few months ago, Cuccinelli told WUSA9 that his advice simply followed what the General Assembly passed. 

"They debated that, they decided that. That's not my role at Attorney General. My role is to provide legal advice as they implement what the General Assembly told them to do," said Cuccinelli.

But the clinic's attorney David Lasso disagrees and says Cuccinelli's was instrumental in pushing through the new regulations. 

Lasso says Cuccinelli's office pushed further than what the General Assembly passed, and pressured the board into not grandfather existing clinics.

"He instructed them that they were obligated not to have a grandfather clause. They had to apply these new rules to these existing facilities, and so that's really what they did," said Lasso.

Lasso says that even existing hospitals do not have to comply with the new 2010 healthcare facilities guidelines, just facilities that perform five or more first trimester abortions every year.

Many critics of the new regulations call them a 'back door' to banning abortions.

Codding said, "I don't think it's a back door. I think it's a full front assault on women's health." 

Codding said she was encouraged by her Christian faith to fight the regulations to keep her clinic open so that she can continue helping needy women receive all type of medical care.