CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- While a state anti-abortion organization pushes for more regulations, abortion rights advocates call the campaign a veiled effort to end the practice in West Virginia.
"If this were about protecting women's health, we would be behind it," said Margaret Chapman Pomponio, executive director of the reproductive rights group WV Free. "A critical piece [of women's health care] is abortion care, and we believe masquerading under the guise of caring for women is a terribly deceiving message.
"Women's health providers are already regulated like any other facility or healthcare provider of their kind."
The Family Policy Council of West Virginia, an anti-abortion group, started the Illuminate campaign, which the group calls an effort to ensure safety in the abortion industry.
The state monitors doctors and nurses, but not the clinics they work in, the same as it does for other health-care providers.
The Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights group that monitors such regulations nationally, said 2013 will see a near record-high number of state-level restrictions on abortions.
Among the most prominent are those like the one Virginia recently passed, which Guttmacher describes as a "thicket, designed not to benefit patients, but to make it impossible for many providers to come into compliance."
The Virginia state board of health passed laws that require that abortion clinics meet the standards for newly constructed hospitals including 5-foot-wide public hallways, large janitors closets and four parking spaces per surgical room.
Under pressure from attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, the Virginia board also ruled that existing clinics would have to meet those requirements and not be "grandfathered" in, according to media reports.
Cuccinelli campaigned for West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey before last year's election. Morrisey recently sent letters to both of West Virginia's abortion clinics questioning their practices. He is now accepting public comment on potential abortion regulations.
Abortion rights advocates told media outlets that making the changes would cost the clinics tens of thousands to millions of dollars. Earlier this month, Virginia's busiest abortion clinic closed.