Alexandria planning commission wants to ease zoning issues for abortion clinics

Alexandria, Virginia’s planning commission approved a measure Thursday that would allow abortion clinics to operate in the city without facing any zoning hurdles.

The measure was brought up by Vice Chair Melissa McMahon and seconded by Commissioner David Brown – they voted to redefine what would constitute a “medical care facility” and approved abortion services to fall into that category.

According to NBC Washington, abortion clinics would be treated like other medical care centers, allowing them to operate in areas zoned for commercial use without requiring special permits or approvals.

Members of the community spoke at Thursday night’s meeting, voicing their support for allowing more access to these necessary medical services. Some said passing the measure would allow ease of access for future locations.

“Not only would the establishment of new clinics benefit our friends and neighbors throughout the Commonwealth, but it would also benefit people living in our border states of West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina, where abortion has either been completely banned or severely restricted,” said Emily Eckert with the Alexandria Commission for Women.

Mayor Justin Wilson says the planning commission’s decision reacts to what he says residents want and have asked for.

In February, while speaking at the state’s annual March for Life rally in Richmond, Attorney General Jason Miyares said that, while he is an opponent of abortion, he also opposes the idea that women should be prosecuted for seeking the service. This statement came after proposed legislation by Gov. Glenn Youngkin in January called to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy and punish doctors who violate the ban.

“The pro-life message is one of compassion. And there have been some voices in this country saying we should prosecute women who make the decision to have an abortion. That is not right,” he said.

After last year’s overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court, Alexandria City Council approved a resolution to protect abortion services.

The recommendation will go to the City Council for a final vote set in mid-April.

Ciara Wells

Ciara Wells is the Evening Digital Editor at WTOP. She is a graduate of American University where she studied journalism and Spanish. Before joining WTOP, she was the opinion team editor at a student publication and a content specialist at an HBCU in Detroit.

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