Virginia's State Health Commissioner, Dr. Karen Remley, resigned from her position on Thursday, saying that new regulations for abortion clinics compromised her ability to fulfill her duties.
"Today’s message is very hard to write, as I am sharing with you a difficult and important decision I have made," she said in a letter to her colleagues.
Remley said the Virginia Department of Health had been implementing the new building regulations for abortion clinics, which were approved by the Virginia Board of Health in September. All twenty abortion clinics in the state will be fully licensed for the coming year, according to Remley.
However, the new licensing rules, which require abortion clinics to meet the same standards as new hospitals, "has created an environment in which my ability to fulfill my duties is compromised and in good faith I can no longer serve in my role," Remley added. "I have submitted my resignation from the position from State Health Commissioner effective today."
Reproductive rights advocates have said the new regulations on abortion clinics will force them to undergo costly renovations. The new rules, they claim, are medically unnecessary and merely an attempt to close down the clinics.
“As Commissioner she served two governors from two different parties, and all the citizens of Virginia, with constant professionalism, intellect and dedication,” Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said in a statement. “She was a tireless public servant, and we will miss her in the Administration. I wish Dr. Remley the very best moving forward, and know she will continue to play a leading role in healthcare in Virginia in the years ahead.”
Earlier this year, Virginia passed controversial legislation that requires women to undergo an ultrasound at least 24 hours before terminating her pregnancy. The bill originally required women to receive an invasive transvaginal ultrasound, but after facing a flood of criticism from across the nation, Virginia lawmakers amend the legislation so that a transabdominal ultrasound was sufficient.