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NEWS BRIEFS: Va. abortion clinics to close?

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–The Virginia Senate approved legislation Feb. 24 to require stricter regulations on abortion clinics in an action both sides in the ongoing cultural and policy battle described as a significant victory for pro-life advocates. The bill would require the clinics to be regulated as hospitals are.

Gov. Robert McDonnell, a Republican, is expected to sign the bill, which was passed previously by the House of Delegates. The law would take effect July 1. The state’s Board of Health would write regulations to govern enforcement of the new law.

Abortion-rights advocates decried the legislation, which could mandate such things as the width of hallways, and said possibly 17 of Virginia’s 21 abortion clinics might have to close, The Washington Post reported.

“Everyone, including abortion facility operators, should be able to agree that abortion clinics should not operate with less oversight than veterinary clinics, as they do in many states,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. “Women deserve much better.”

Passage in the Senate came when Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, the presiding officer, broke a 20-20 deadlock.

Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, called it an “historic vote.”

TWO IRANIANS NAMED HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSERS — The United States Feb. 24 named two Iranian officials — Tehran prosecutor general Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi and Iranian military commander Mohammed Reza Naqdi — as responsible for “serious human rights abuses” in Iran following the 2009 disputed presidential election. As part of the designation, the two men will have financial and travel sanctions placed on them.

The U.S. government said Naqdi led a military response to a peaceful protest that resulted in 15 deaths and hundreds of arrests. Dolatabadi’s office indicted protesters and charged them with “Muharebeh” — enmity against God — which carries a death sentence. He also “denied due process” to those on death row, according to a U.S. government statement.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent watchdog group, applauded the designations.
Compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, and Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press.

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