Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli approved controversial new regulations covering abortion providers Wednesday, requiring those clinics to meet the same facility standards as hospitals.

In July, Cuccinelli refused to certify the rules because existing facilities would have been exempt from the tougher structural requirements, which included larger operating rooms, wider hallways and bigger parking lots. But the state Board of Health reversed itself earlier this month, voting to require existing clinics to meet the new rules.

In a brief letter to the board, Cuccinelli's office said the new regulations "are constitutional and do not conflict with existing federal or state laws or regulations."

The regulations next face a public review period and approval from Gov. Bob McDonnell, a pro-life Republican.

Anti-abortion advocates said the new regulations will ensure women's safety while abortion rights supporters called it a backdoor attempt to end legal abortion in Virginia.