VA Health Commissioner Resigns Over Abortion Regulations - ABC 8NEWS - WRIC | Richmond, Virginia News & Weather

VA Health Commissioner Resigns Over Abortion Regulations

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Richmond, VA--Virginia's Health Commissioner Karen Remley resigned from her position today, after the General Assembly passed controversial several abortion clinic regulations recently.  

Executive Director of ProgressVA Anna Scholl released the following statement about Remley's resignation:

"It's deplorable that the political machinations of Attorney General Cuccinelli and Governor McDonnell have compromised the ability of dedicated public servants like Commissioner Remley to promote the health of all Virginians. It's never been more clear that these regulations are designed to limit access to safe and legal first trimester abortion in the Commonwealth. As we've said time and again, politicians have no role interfering in private health care decisions that should be between a woman, her family, and her faith. Ken Cuccinelli and Bob McDonnell should be ashamed of what their right-wing agenda and bullying of the Board of Health has cost Virginia."

The State General Assembly passed a series of regulations in September, which require new abortion clinics to operate under the same regulations as hospitals.

Gov. Bob McDonnell said of Remley's resignation:

"I greatly appreciate Dr. Remley's tremendous public service over the past four years. As Commissioner, she served two governors from two different parties, and all the citizens of Virginia, with constant professionalism, intellect and dedication. She was a tireless public servant, and we will miss her in the administration. I wish Dr. Remley the very best moving forward, and know she will continue to play a leading role in healthcare in Virginia in the years ahead."

Dr. Remley says that her decision was a "difficult and important" one in the her resignation letter, emailed to her colleagues Thursday afternoon. Read the full letter below:


"Dear Colleague,

Many of you may wonder as you open this email why this is out of sync from my weekly emails. First let me say that through this mode of communication I have felt a collegiality and friendship with each of you that I have treasured regardless of our opportunities to meet face to face.
Today's message is very hard to write, as I am sharing with you a difficult and important decision I have made. As you know, over the past year VDH has been developing and implementing regulations of all abortion facilities in Virginia. I have worked to guarantee the process of survey and licensure would be fairly and thoughtfully applied across the Commonwealth. As of today, all twenty abortion facilities that are eligible for licensing have been inspected, where necessary, plans of correction were received and approved, and within the next few days all will be fully licensed for the coming year.

Unfortunately, how specific sections of the Virginia Code pertaining to the development and enforcement of these regulations have been and continue to be interpreted has created an environment in which my ability to fulfill my duties is compromised and in good faith I can no longer serve in my role. I have submitted my resignation from the position from State Health Commissioner effective today.

I am so humbled, proud and in awe of each of you. Through your leadership, drive and commitment to public health principles, I have been able to walk alongside you for five years, participating in so many important preventive, innovative and improvement initiatives, each one demonstrating your professionalism, passion and strength. I am honored to be a very small part of these endeavors. I will not try to list VDH's achievements here, as there are too numerous to name.

There are so many wonderful things we have achieved to advance health that I am content to reflect, remember, and smile. Every one of you, whether it be in the Office of Environmental Health, Licensing and Certification, EMS, Chief Medical Examiner, Risk Communications, Preparedness and Response, Epidemiology, Family Health Services, Drinking Water, Minority Health and Health Equity, Internal Audit, Human Resources, Administration, Finance, Budget, Procurement, Information Management, Vital Records, Commissioner and each and every one of our Local Health Departments- where public health truly plays out every minute every day --- truly inspire me. I thank each of you for the education, support and kindness you have demonstrated to me, to the public, and to your colleagues. I know you will continue the mission we are all so passionate about.
I am truly grateful to have worked with each and every one of you."

A statement from Caroline Gibson, Deputy Director of Communication Office of the Attorney General of Virginia, reads:

"We wish Dr. Remley the very best in her future endeavors, and offer our thanks for her years of service to the commonwealth."

This is a developing story…stay with 8News for updates.

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