Virginia’s busiest abortion clinic in Fairfax closes

This story has been updated.

WASHINGTON – The busiest abortion clinic in Virginia has closed, as state and city regulations appear to have made it more difficult for the facility to keep operating.

NOVA Women’s Healthcare had operated in an office building on Eaton Place, just off Virginia Route 123 in the City of Fairfax since 2006, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

The clinic had considered moving to a facility where it could meet tougher standards for health clinics approved last year by the Virginia Board of Health, the Fairfax Times reports. But The Washington Post says the city denied the facility’s permit, citing inadequate parking, and the clinic chose not to appeal.

Last week, the Fairfax City Council also voted to require a special use permit for all medical facilities — a zoning change that some say was aimed at limiting abortion services.

The council amended its zoning ordinance to consider abortion clinics “medical care facilities” and to require such facilities to obtain a special-use permit plus approval from the council. Before, clinics did not have to get council approval and the city treated them as though they were doctor’s offices.

It’s not clear whether the clinic — which also had faced recent lawsuits from its landlord on Eaton Place and in June agreed to pay back rent and vacate the space – – will reopen, according to the Post.

The clinic’s closing comes as good news for Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall, R- Manassas, an outspoken opponent of abortion. But he says the new regulations are not just aimed at abortion.

“This was the considered, prudential judgement of public health professionals, not religous fanatics,” says Marshall. “If this clinic can’t cut it, they ought to be shut down.”

But Alena Yarmosky with the National Abortion Rights League says the clinic’s shutdown will make it harder for thousands of people to access health care.

“They went to the clinic because they were not able to afford care at other (medical providers)”, she says

Yarmosky says 18 other women’s health clinics in Virginia may face a similar struggle because of the new state regulations.

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WTOP’s Hank Silverberg contributed to this report. Follow @hsilverbergwtop and @WTOP on Twitter.

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