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Law prof says AG cannot dictate abortion regulation

Professor and administrative law scholar John Paul Jones is urging members of the state board of health to use their own judgment on new abortion clinic regulations up for review this week.

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has said – through an office memo – that he will not certify the board’s regulations if they exempt existing abortion clinics from stricter regulations required by 2011 legislation. Jones, in a Sept. 3 letter summarizing a planned law review essay, said the health board is not required to accept Cuccinelli’s judgment for its own.

“Nothing in the Constitution of Virginia even suggests that its framers intended to bestow on the Attorney General the power to substitute his view of what the Health Code dictates,” Jones wrote.

Under a governor’s executive order, proposed state administrative regulations go through a review process, including attorney general certification that the agency has the legal authority to promulgate the new rules.

The attorney general’s office claims the proposed “grandfather” clause for stricter abortion regulations conflicts with a statute prescribing compliance with national hospital standards.

Jones, law professor at the University of Richmond, is a leading authority on Virginia administrative law. His letter follows a similar comment from the ACLU of Virginia.

Advocates on both sides of the abortion debate are expected to turn out when the state board of health meets Friday for reconsideration of the proposed regulations.


  1. Mary L. Costello Daniel

    JP Jones would know. Entire countries have been well-served by following his constitutional advice. Some of us paid UR handsomely for the opportunity to hear what he had to say. I hope my public servants show the same good sense when the advice is free.

  2. Ken the cooch Cuccinelli is overstepping the guidelines of his duties as AG. He is trying to force his own personal and ideological views on to the BOH and ultimately on to the women of Virginia. We’re NOT HAVING IT!

  3. Seems like an overt abuse of power for the AG. What are citizen boards for if not to hold in check over zealous, over reaching political officers? Interestingly if you go to VDH website you see that the legislation only requires MINIMUM standards and inclusion as a category of hospital. Nothing requiring actually being a hospital. VDH as well as the AG should let the BOH do its job.

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