Our View: McAuliffe on abortion

Posted: May 15, 2014

Almost from the outset of his gubernatorial campaign, we contended Terry McAuliffe was a man in a hurry — and thus would fall prey to the temptation of playing fast-and-loose with Virginia’s governance. Constitutional propriety, we feared, might be lost on Mr. McAuliffe.

In these first four months of his tenure, we must admit, the governor took a back seat in this regard to his attorney general, Mark Herring, who has sought to overturn a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage and mandate that public colleges and universities grant in-state tuition to students residing in the commonwealth illegally.

Mr. McAuliffe waded into this realm of government by whimsy earlier this week. He doesn’t much like regulations, approved by the General Assembly three years ago, holding abortion clinics to the same standards as outpatient surgical centers. So, acting on a campaign promise, he’ll try to overturn these regulations, or at least soften their impact, by dint of administrative review.

There’s only one problem. State code says regulations can only be reviewed every four years. Mr. McAuliffe says he’s not skirting the law, but merely expediting the process, hopefully to spare these clinics the burden of making renovations they maintain will put them out of business. In such a way does a campaign pledge take precedence over the rule of law.

After stacking the state Board of Health with five new appointees, all abortion supporters, the governor may well have the votes to follow through on that election-year promise. But even these personnel-is-policy moves, while well within his gubernatorial prerogatives, were engineered by specious means. Four sitting board members were, let’s say, encouraged to leave before their terms were up.

Given the grisly example of the infamous Gosnell abortion mill in Philadelphia, we see no reason why these “women’s health clinics” should not be held to the same standards as other facilities that perform invasive medical procedures. But Terry McAuliffe doesn’t see it that way, and so appears willing, even eager, to fold, spindle, and mutilate state code, not to mention the teachings of his professed religion (Roman Catholicism), in order to bend Virginia to his will.

A surprise? Not to us, nor should it be to anyone else.