The public has until Sept. 15 to comment on the draft "emergency regulations" that the Board of Health will vote on that day. The public can view the regulations at www.vdh.state.va.us and respond to them; the Richmond meeting also has an in-person public comment period.

Erin Zabel, spokesperson for the Southeastern Virginia Planned Parenthood answered your questions about their potential impact. If approved and the regulations pass executive review, they will take effect on Jan. 1, 2012, for a year until permanent regulations replace them.

 Ask the Experts: About the proposed "emergency" regulations for abortion clinics(09/07/2011) 
11:58
Prue: 
Welcome to our Wednesday health chat. Today's topic is the proposed "emergency regulations" for the licensing of abortion clinics in Virginia. Today's expert is Erin Zabel, marketing director for Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Virginia.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 11:58 Prue
11:58
Prue: 
Erin, please let readers know when you're available to answer questions.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 11:58 Prue
11:58
Prue: 
Abortion is a very uncomfortable topic that we tend to talk about only at election time and then the arguments are in the abstract.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 11:58 Prue
12:00
Erin Zabel: 
I am here Prue, thanks!
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:00 Erin Zabel
12:00
Prue: 
Welcome Erin.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:00 Prue
12:00
Erin Zabel: 
Thanks for having me!
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:00 Erin Zabel
12:00
Prue: 
Readers: you can ask your questions about current and proposed abortion regulations in Virginia now. All questions are completely anonymous unless you choose to give your name.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:00 Prue
12:01
Prue: 
Erin, Please explain to readers what the proposed new regulations are for clinics in Virginia and what the impact may be for those providing the service.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:01 Prue
12:02
Prue: 
The statistics show that there are more than 25,000 abortions a year in Virginia -- that's about one in 5 of all pregnancies are terminated. The proposed regulations are therefore likely to affect thousands of women in Virginia. Let's TALK about them.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:02 Prue
12:02
Erin Zabel: 
Sure. The new regulations include a variety of patient safety standards that PPSEV has been doing for years. The main issue with the draft regulations is that they require all providers in the state to adhere to 2010 guidelines for design and construction of health care facilities that are intended for new construction, not existing buildings.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:02 Erin Zabel
12:03
Prue: 
I've heard that most of the state's clinics would not be able to meet those standards. Why is this?
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:03 Prue
12:03
Erin Zabel: 
These requirements will impose a huge burden on existing providers. Both in time and expense--and have nothing to do with quality of patient care.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:03 Erin Zabel
12:04
Prue: 
Can you give readers some examples of the proposed new requirements?
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:04 Prue
12:04
Erin Zabel: 
Most providers operate in doctors' offices, similar to those that provide dental surgery, colonoscopies, eye surgery, plastic surgery, etc,
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:04 Erin Zabel
12:05
Erin Zabel: 
First trimester abortion is a very safe procedure with a very low complication rate--it doesn't require the types of structural changes that these new regulations require.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:05 Erin Zabel
12:05
Prue: 
So, my understanding is that the draft regulations would affect only those clinics providing abortion services and not other office surgeries?
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:05 Prue
12:05
Erin Zabel: 
To build an entire new building is extremely costly, and will not be possible for all providers in the state.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:05 Erin Zabel
12:06
Erin Zabel: 
Correct--abortion has been singled out for political reasons--even though it carries one of the lowest complication rates of any outpatient procedure.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:06 Erin Zabel
12:06
Prue: 
If the Board of Health passes these draft regulations, what do you anticipate will be the impact?
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:06 Prue
12:06
Erin Zabel: 
At this point it's hard to say, but it is very likely Virginia women will have even fewer options in terms of accessing early, safe abortion care.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:06 Erin Zabel
12:06
Prue: 
Readers: This is your chance to ask questions about the proposed draft regulations for abortion clinics. The Board of Health votes on them on Sept. 15 in Richmond.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:06 Prue
12:07
Erin Zabel: 
Already, 86% of Virginia's counties lack an abortion provider.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:07 Erin Zabel
12:07
Prue: 
What happens if a woman is unable to access a local provider? What are her options?
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:07 Prue
12:08
[Comment From SueSue: ] 
What are other clinic or other surgical type facilities that will NOT be affected by the new regs?
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:08 Sue
12:08
Erin Zabel: 
I do want to say that Planned Parenthood is very supportive of regulations that adhere to medicine and ensure patient safety--but requiring early, safe abortion to be done in an ambulatory surgical center is not necessary and has in no way been shown to improve patient care.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:08 Erin Zabel
12:09
Erin Zabel: 
The only type of health center that is being affected by these regulations are those doing 5 or more abortions a month.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:09 Erin Zabel
12:09
Prue: 
Is that a month or a year?
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:09 Prue
12:09
[Comment From SueSue: ] 
So, dentists, plastic surgeons, etc., aren't affected by the regs?
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:09 Sue
12:09
Erin Zabel: 
Women unable to access early, safe abortion care may turn to other means that will be physically harmful.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:09 Erin Zabel
12:10
Erin Zabel: 
Correct--ONLY those providing 5 or more abortions per month.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:10 Erin Zabel
12:10
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
will these regulations also apply to first trimester abortions done in Ob-Gyn offices as opposed to "clinics"?
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:10 Guest
12:10
Erin Zabel: 
Most private Ob/GYN providers do not provide abortion services.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:10 Erin Zabel
12:10
Erin Zabel: 
If they did, they would be subject to the same regulations, yes.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:10 Erin Zabel
12:11
Prue: 
Is a "d and c" the same thing as an abortion?
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:11 Prue
12:11
[Comment From SueSue: ] 
What's the likelihood of the Board of Health passing the news regs?
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:11 Sue
12:11
Erin Zabel: 
Our hope is that the board of health will amend these regulations to better reflect sound science and proven medical standards before they are passed.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:11 Erin Zabel
12:12
Prue: 
Could you tell readers where they can access the draft regulations to make comments before the vote on Sept. 15?
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:12 Prue
12:12
Erin Zabel: 
The two procedures are very similar, yes--and docs providing D&Cs in their offices are not subject to the same requirements.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:12 Erin Zabel
12:12
Prue: 
What amendments would you like to see? Could you give specifics on this?
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:12 Prue
12:12
[Comment From SueSue: ] 
If the regs are passed, what are the options for challenging them?
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:12 Sue
12:13
Erin Zabel: 
YES! They are available on the board of health Web site and they can also access them, sign a petition or make their voices heard in other ways at www.coalitionforwomenshealth.org.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:13 Erin Zabel
12:13
Erin Zabel: 
Not sure at this point--again, our sincere hope is that the board of health will amend the regulations to reflect medicine and not politics.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:13 Erin Zabel
12:13
Prue: 
Readers: We are talking to Erin Zabel, marketing director of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Virginia, about the proposed new draft regulations for abortion clinics. Ask your questions now.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:13 Prue
12:14
[Comment From SueSue: ] 
If a D&C and first-trimester abortion are very similar, couldn't ob/gyns perform a D&C in lieu of an "abortion," and not have to adhere to the new regs?
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:14 Sue
12:15
Erin Zabel: 
That's a question regarding OB/GYN licensure and ACOG--hard for me to respond.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:15 Erin Zabel
12:15
Prue: 
The Department of Health web site, where readers can view the proposed draft regulations is at www.vdh.virginia.gov
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:15 Prue
12:15
Erin Zabel: 
The point is that most women access early safe abortion in health centers that will be affected by these regulations.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:15 Erin Zabel
12:16
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
if a woman is given an abortion pill/pill combination to take at home verses a "surgical" abortion will the regulations apply to the entitity dispensing the medication? or just to regulations for an ambulatory "surgery" center?
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:16 Guest
12:16
Erin Zabel: 
These centers also provide a wide range of preventative reproductive health care too--often low-cost, so if they close these services will not be available either.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:16 Erin Zabel
12:16
Prue: 
I would like to add to guest's question about medical vs. surgical abortion. What percentage of procedures, approximately, do not require surgery?
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:16 Prue
12:17
Erin Zabel: 
GREAT question, and yes this applies to medication abortion as well.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:17 Erin Zabel
12:17
Erin Zabel: 
A health center must adhere to 2010 building standards to even dispense the medication abortion pill.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:17 Erin Zabel
12:17
Erin Zabel: 
About 30%.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:17 Erin Zabel
12:17
Prue: 
So 30 percent do not require surgery?
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:17 Prue
12:18
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
abortion is a safe, legal medical procedure.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:18 Guest
12:18
[Comment From SueSue: ] 
What are some of the more striking building or construction requirements covered by the new regs? I've heard it covers even types of sinks ...?
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:18 Sue
12:18
Erin Zabel: 
About 30% of women choose the medication abortion pill as opposed to surgical abortion.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:18 Erin Zabel
12:18
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
abortion is a safe, legal medical procedure. can you comment on the qualifications for the Board of Health vs the Board of Medicine?
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:18 Guest
12:19
Erin Zabel: 
There are requirements for placement of closets, square footage requirmements, width of hallways, fire safety ratings of walls and ceilings...
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:19 Erin Zabel
12:20
Erin Zabel: 
Again, these 2010 building codes are requirements for NEW construction, not existing health centers.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:20 Erin Zabel
12:20
Prue: 
Readers - we have just a few minutes left for you to ask your questions of Erin Zabel of Planned Parenthood about the proposed new draft regulations for clinics providing abortion services.
For more health news, go to www.dailypress.com/health every day for updated info.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:20 Prue
12:21
Erin Zabel: 
The board of health is made up of physicians who are licensed by the board of medicine, as well as laywers on both boards--they have two totally different functions.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:21 Erin Zabel
12:21
Prue: 
Did Planned Parenthood have any input into the proposed regulations?
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:21 Prue
12:22
Erin Zabel: 
There is a women's health coalition in the state made up of multiple organizations and providers, including Planned Parenthood who attempted to help with the regulations--but the draft regulations don't reflect the input.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:22 Erin Zabel
12:23
Prue: 
In response to the question about "challenging" the regulations if passed -- public comment is permitted in writing before the Sept. 15 vote -- and the public can also go to the Board of Health meeting in Richmond on Sept. 15 and speak for 2 minutes.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:23 Prue
12:23
Erin Zabel: 
Yes--because these are emergency regulations, this will be the only opportunity for the public to weigh in.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:23 Erin Zabel
12:24
Prue: 
To see the proposed regulations, go to www.vdh.state.va.us. The public can send written comments to commissioner.remley@vdh.virginia.gov or fax them to 804-864-7022, attention Commissioner Karen Remley. The state Board of Health will vote on the regulations at its quarterly meeting onl Thursday, Sept. 15. There will also be a 1-hour public comment period at the meeting prior to the vote.
The meeting is at the Wyndham Richmond Airport Hotel, 4700 S. Laburnum Ave., Richmond; it starts at 9 a.m. but the regulations vote is on the agenda for after lunch.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:24 Prue
12:24
Erin Zabel: 
These regulations will go into effect January 1 and there will be at least a year before final regulations will be put in place.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:24 Erin Zabel
12:24
Prue: 
Erin - Can you explain the "emergency" nature of the regulations and how that's affecting the process.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:24 Prue
12:25
Prue: 
I have one last question -- why does this affect low-income women more than others?
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:25 Prue
12:25
Erin Zabel: 
Typically the process would be over a much longer period of time with more opportunities for the public to weigh in. The legislation was written and passed as "emergency" so the timeline has been greatly compressed and there is only one opportunity for public comment before these are voted on and go into effect Jan. 1.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:25 Erin Zabel
12:25
Erin Zabel: 
Even though there hasn't been any evidence that women are not receiving quality care already.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:25 Erin Zabel
12:25
[Comment From SueSue: ] 
Could the final regulations be much different than the ones voted on later this month?
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:25 Sue
12:27
Erin Zabel: 
It's possible, although providers will have to adhere to those voted on September 15 for at least a year if not 18 months--so even if the new regulations are much different, some providers may not have been able to continue providing care throughout that period.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:27 Erin Zabel
12:27
Prue: 
why does this affect low-income women more than others?
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:27 Prue
12:27
Erin Zabel: 
97% of women report no complications.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:27 Erin Zabel
12:28
Erin Zabel: 
Low-income women will have a much harder time traveling to find a provider--and even if they can travel, we have a 24-hour consent law in Virginia, so they will need to travel at least twice, if not stay overnight to receive care.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:28 Erin Zabel
12:29
Prue: 
Erin,
Once you've answered my low-income question I'm going to close out the chat. Please share any other information you would like with readers -- contact information, PPSEVA services etc. Thanks so much.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:29 Prue
12:29
Erin Zabel: 
Not to mention the increase in cost of the service if providers are forced to make expensive renovations to continue to provide abortoin care,
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:29 Erin Zabel
12:30
Erin Zabel: 
If anyone has any additional questions, please call us anytime at 757-499-PLAN(7526) or e-mail me directly at marketing@ppsev.org. You can also visit our Web site at www.ppsev.org AND visit www.coalitionforwomenshealth.org.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:30 Erin Zabel
12:30
Erin Zabel: 
PLEASE make your voice heard on this issue!
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:30 Erin Zabel
12:31
Prue: 
Erin- Thanks so much for your participation and information. I'm closing the chat now. For transcripts go to www.dailypress.com/health.
Again, to see the proposed regulations, go to www.vdh.state.va.us. The public can send written comments to commissioner.remley@vdh.virginia.gov or fax them to 804-864-7022, attention Commissioner Karen Remley. The state Board of Health will vote on the regulations at its quarterly meeting onl Thursday, Sept. 15. There will also be a 1-hour public comment period at the meeting prior to the vote.
The meeting is at the Wyndham Richmond Airport Hotel, 4700 S. Laburnum Ave., Richmond; it starts at 9 a.m. but the regulations vote is on the agenda for after lunch.
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:31 Prue
12:31
Erin Zabel: 
Thank you for having me!
Wednesday September 7, 2011 12:31 Erin Zabel
12:32