Meet Victoria Cobb, president of The Family Foundation, and queen of Virginia’s faith-based anti-abortion activists.
Now meet her husband, Matt Cobb, deputy secretary of Health and Human Resources since his appointment by Gov. Bob McDonnell in January 2010.
Friday, the Virginia Department of Health recommended new architectural standards for abortion clinics — regulations that the state’s existing 22 clinics would have to abide by. It’s caused an uproar across the women’s health community in Virginia.
This is a product of a backdoor legislative maneuver in the 2011 General Assembly session and it could shut down all the existing abortion clinics in the commonwealth.
And now, questions are being raised about whether that’s happening again, in a different manner, because the dog guarding the regulatory henhouse is married to the fox who’s been trying to gut it for years. Or something along those lines. You get the drift. It sure seems cozy.
From Huffington Post:
[Tarina] Keene and other members of the Virginia Coalition to Protect Women’s Health are questioning whether the surprisingly severe restrictions, which were drafted by the Virginia Department of Health and presided over by the state’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, were fueled by a conflict of interest in the administration. Matt Cobb, Victoria Cobb’s husband, was appointed Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Resources in 2010, and Keene says he sat in on many of the meetings with her and her colleagues in which the new regulations were being discussed.
This all goes back to a sneak attack in the House of Delegates in February upon a noncontroversial Senate bill that set infection-control, security and disaster preparedness standards for hospitals and nursing homes.
SB924 passed the Senate Health and Education Committee (the traditional burying ground for anti-abortion legislation) unanimously, and it passed the Democratic-controlled Senate without a dissenting vote, too.
Things got interesting once it got over to the Republican-controlled House. There, Del. Kathy Byron, R-Lynchburg, added a 26-word amendment that defined as hospitals any clinic that performs more than 5 abortions a month.
The amended bill went back to the full Senate (not the committee), where two anti-abortion Democrats and 18 Republicans voted for it, leaving the count tied 20-20. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling sided with siding with abortion opponents and broke the tie. Gov. Bob McDonnell later signed the bill. And that’s how abortions got redefined as hospitals, which the source of much of the current angst.
Clearly the Republicans outfoxed the Democrats on this one. Abortion rights supporters never saw it coming until it was way too late to stop it. And now that seems to be happening once again.
When the bill passed, Victoria Cobb issued a press release hailing the legislation as “”a monumental win for the pro-life movement.”
As anti-abortion lobby queen AND wife of a high ranking official who could meddle with the coming regulations, she probably had the keenest understanding in Richmond of what would be coming.
Back in February, abortion rights supporters predicted the legislation could mean 17 abortion clinics in the state would have to close — but that five Planned Parenthood clinics (including the one on Peter’s Creek Road in Roanoke) would be able to stay open because they had been built to the more stringent hospital-like standards.
Now, surprised Planned Parenthood officials say even those clinics won’t meet the proposed new standards because they’re the most stringent in the nation. From another Huffington Post article:
The Virginia League of Planned Parenthood said none of its five clinics are currently in compliance with the draft regulations. The renovations required to meet the new rules would cost millions of dollars, and abortion clinics would have to foot the cost themselves and try to recoup the money in patient fees down the road.
“We recently spent $4.6 million on renovations for the building I’m in, and we still don’t meet these requirements,” said Paulette McElwain, president and CEO of VLPP. “I think it’s highly likely that most facilities in Virginia that provide abortions wont be able to meet them either.”
The proposed standards are up for public comment now. The state Board of Health will vote on them Sept. 15. You can offer your input by emailing the department at this address: OLC-Inquiries@vdh.virginia.gov
Note: This post has been edited to remove a previous link and include the email address for the Virginia Department of Health’s office on Li censure and Certification of Health Care Facilities.