A new law approved by the Virginia state senate is waiting for the signature of Gov. Bob McDonnell. If he signs the bill into law, Virginia abortion clinics will be classified as hospitals, meaning they would face stricter regulations that could force as many as 17 of the 21 facilities in the state to close their doors.

“The governor has expressed support for this bill,” said Jeff Caldwell, McDonell’s press secretary. “He will review the legislation, make [amendments] and express his full opinion in the next 30 days.”

The bill authorizes Virginia’s Board of Health to set requirements for facility specifications for abortion clinics such as widening hallways, covering entrances and increasing surgical room sizes to 250 square feet.

If McDonnell signs the bill into law as he is expected to do, the new regulations would make Virginia the first state in the country to classify abortion clinics as hospitals, according to a Feb. 25 article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Women’s rights groups are expected to challenge the legislation in the court system, according to the article. If the bill passes, the Virginia Board of Health has 280 days to draft proposed regulations.

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said he believes the law to be constitutional and will defend it in court, according to the article. The article said once every year or two there is a disciplinary case involving an abortion doctor. There are approximately 27,000 abortions per year in Virginia.

“This comes as a big devastation to the issue of women’s rights and to everyone at Planned Parenthood,” said Jessica Honke, director of public policy for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia. “Although it was depicted as a safety measure, it was definitely a political ploy to end abortion practices.”

Some George Mason University students were disappointed by the bill.

“Women should have the right to do what they want with their lives, bodies and future,” said Christine Ellis, a sophomore majoring in global affairs. “They should be in control of when they are ready to become a parent. The government needs to back off.”

“Abortion clinics should be only that — abortion clinics,” said senior communication major Phillip Armstrong. “Requiring these remodeling standards is a cover just to shut them down. What is the real problem: killing a few cells that have no feeling or raising a child in a negative, financially unstable, unprepared and impulsive manner?” Armstrong said.

Although the bill does not ban abortion outright, many small or non-profit clinics cannot afford to conduct expensive renovations.

“It is unfair and unnecessary to put such restrictions on clinics,” said sophomore communication major Elisabeth Havinga. “There is a difference between a hospital and a clinic, one of them being the space and comfort each provides.”

“We do not have a stance on political issues such as regulating abortion clinics,” said Jared Bendy, a member of Campus Crusade for Christ. “However, we do support any initiatives that help a woman choose life.”

Planned Parenthood has already remodeled four of its clinics in Virginia and is doing whatever it can to keep its doors open, Honke said.

“It is just unfortunate that such a law got passed,” Honke said.

Though the governor is set to sign the bill soon, senior communication major A.J. Verma still has hope that he will change his mind.

“I really hope that this bill is not passed,” Verma said. “Women should have a choice and this state should not be the one to interfere.”

Since the Supreme Court gave states the right to regulate abortions in the 1990s, almost every state has passed laws concerning abortion, according to an article in Charlottesville’s The Daily Progress.