The regulations, which were created when former Gov. Bob McDonnell was in office, hold women’s health clinics to hospital construction standards. Abortion rights supporters say they are designed to put existing clinics out of business, although abortion opponents say they’re intended to protect women’s health.
“The issue really speaks to how divisive abortion is in the U.S,” says Stephen Farnsworth, a professor at the University of Mary Washington. “One of the major things that a Republican governor wants to do when he’s elected is to make it harder for abortions to take place, and one of the things a Democratic governor wants to do when he’s elected is to make abortions more available.”