Virginia Republicans' anti-choice agenda forces Remley's resignation
Richmond, VA - The cost of the anti-women's health agenda that Republicans have been pushing across Virginia grew yesterday with the resignation of Dr. Karen Remley, a qualified and dedicated public servant from the state Board of Health over new regulations targeted at closing women's health clinics that perform abortions.
Remley noted that the regulations, along with the broader anti-choice agenda of Virginia Republicans, "created an environment" in which she was unable to "fulfill [her] duties" as health commissioner.
"This is not an issue of pro-choice or pro-life," said Remley, "but of legal opinions that continue to put politics above health."
Democratic Party of Virginia Chairman Brian Moran echoed that sentiment, calling on Virginia Republicans to put public health first:
"By targeting clinics that provide a range of health services to Virginia women, Republicans are once again putting extreme politics ahead of the public good. These regulations aren't about health and safety - if they were you would see McDonnell and Cuccinelli pushing them for other outpatient surgery offices instead of exclusively targeting women's health clinics. This is about right-wing politics, plain and simple, and politics shouldn't trump the health and safety of Virginians - period."
Sheila Olem, Chair of the Democratic Women's Caucus, criticized Bob McDonnell and Ken Cuccinelli's anti-choice agenda that increasingly threatens women's health:
"Dr. Remley was appointed to give sound council about what's best for the people of Virginia and that's what she did throughout her time on the Board of Health," said Olem. "How can we ask experts to serve Virginians on boards and commissions if right-wing politicians like Ken Cuccinelli use threats and legal intimidation to impose their agenda over what's best for Virginia families? All Virginians should be concerned about this extreme political agenda that threatens women's health and undermines respected public servants."
Earlier this year the Board of Health voted to grandfather in clinics that did not meet the General Assembly's new regulations. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli responded by threatening to refuse to represent them in court or appoint special counsel if they did not reverse their decision at a subsequent hearing, using the threat of high legal fees to convince board members to change its ruling.
Virginia Republicans have ignored a chorus of criticism on this issue, including from the Democratic Party of Virginia, which has consistently called for women's health clinics to be exempted from the new regulations, as a variety of other outpatient clinics already are.
State Board of Health member James H. Edmondson Jr. succinctly summarized Virginia Republican's anti-choice agenda and consequent resignation of Dr. Remley: "That's just bad for Virginia women."