The attorney general doesn’t have the authority to guess at legislators’ motivations on abortion regulations.
When legislators passed a 2011 law requiring abortion clinics to follow regulations similar to those for hospitals, some hoped that the rules would force most or all of the women’s health centers to close. Others just wanted to avoid a primary challenge that fall. Their motivations won’t matter when the new law comes under an inevitable court challenge. The judge who will decide how the law applies in Virginia will look only at the words approved by the legislature.
Virginia judges aren’t allowed to guess what legislators thought they were doing when they voted. Most judges shudder at the idea of ruling on legislative intent, recognizing it as a path strewn with migraines, nightmares and despair for the future of the commonwealth. It’s also a path that leads to bad law.