This strategy has been used effectively in states across the country; anti-choice activists are now working to further decrease access to abortion by passing similar regulations on the local level.
- Read about the committee hearings here and here.
- Read about the committee’s final decision on the proposed ordinance.
- Read about the ongoing discussions of the proposed ordinance in St. Joseph County here.
- Read about the City Council hearing and the bill’s defeat here and here.
- Read the amended bill (which did not pass).
- Read about the anti-choice group St. Joseph County Right to Life’s response to the bill’s defeat.
- The St. Joseph County Board of Health released a statement opposing the bill before its defeat.
The debate over a change in zoning codes resurfaced in March of 2015, when city planners were in the process of their comprehensive review of the city’s zoning codes. Councilman Aveni again proposed requiring women’s health facilities to obtain a special use permit as part of their reclassification as a medium-sized medical facility. His proposal was also similar to a zoning change in Fairfax, VA that led to the shuttering of NOVA Women’s Healthcare. The new ordinance passed with a 4-3 vote, the tie broken by Mayor Hal Parrish. Manassas’s only abortion clinic, Amethyst Health Center for Women, was not grandfathered in and would have likely been denied a permit and forced to close.
Amethyst closed in September of 2015, when its owner and provider retired and was unable to find a replacement. At the time of sale, Amethyst’s owner was told by their legal representation that the clinic was being purchased by a group of medical office investors; in fact, the new owner is the Blessed Virgin Mary Foundation, who works with a crisis pregnancy center (CPC) that has long operated next door to Amethyst. CPCs pose as full-service reproductive health care facilities in order to manipulate women with anti-choice propaganda and medically inaccurate information. The CPC had Amethyst’s phones forwarded to their office within a matter of minutes after the sale, and they are actively deceiving women who call Amethyst’s phone number seeking abortion care, telling patients that they are “taking calls for” the shuttered clinic.
- Read more from Inside Nova.
- Read background on this issue from NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia.
- Read NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia’s press release in response to the City Council’s rejection of Councilman Aveni’s measure.
- Read about the City Council’s decision from Potomac Local.
- Read about the controversy surrounding Councilman Aveni’s proposal.
- Read coverage of the ordinance’s passage here and here.
- RH Reality Check also covered the ordinance and its effects on abortion care availability.
- Read about the closing of Amethyst Women’s Health Center here.
- Read about the purchase of Amethyst and anti-choice attempts to deceive callers in Slate and The Washington Post.
- In an effort to meet the requirements of an unnecessary and restrictive TRAP ordinance passed in Virginia requiring abortion clinics to be regulated as Ambulatory Surgical Facilities, the NOVA Women’s Healthcare clinic in Fairfax, VA applied to the City Council to move to a new location and retrofit it to meet the new specification. In response, the Fairfax City Council began looking into their own zoning regulations, and those of nearby towns, in an attempt to reclassify abortion clinics. They ultimately voted to create a new category of “medical care facility,” meaning that abortion clinics will need to obtain a special use permit at a cost of $4,800 and go through a detailed approval process requiring approval from the City Council to pass. NOVA Women’s Healthcare’s permit was denied and the clinic closed in June 2013.
- NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia coordinated the response to these zoning regulations.
- Read background on the ordinance and its passage.
- Read more about the vote at RH Reality Check.
- Read about the response from the pro-choice community.
- Read about the of NOVA Women’s Healthcare.
- Read about the ongoing efforts from advocates and the community to protest the City Council’s decision.