RICHMOND, Va. – After hours of emotional debate, the Virginia Board of Health overwhelmingly approved far-reaching regulations for abortion clinics Thursday that some operators say could shut down many of the state’s 22 facilities.

The very specific regulations, some of the toughest in the nation, include mandates on the size of exam rooms, the width of hallways and the number of parking spaces, as well as requirements for inspections, medical procedures and record-keeping.

“We are here today not because of a concern over women’s health,” said Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, who teared up after the vote. “We are here today because of a political battle that has raged in this state for decades.”

Anti-abortion activists have been pushing for years to impose regulations that would treat abortion clinics as ambulatory surgery centers and require that they meet hospital-type regulations.

“Without adequate regulations, there is simply no way for anyone to know what’s happening inside these clinics,” said Chris Freund, vice president of the conservative Family Foundation, which is in favor of the new rules.

The 12-1 vote came after 4 1/2 hours of sometimes testy debate among board members and passionate public testimony from residents split over the regulations. The regulations will go into effect Dec. 31 if approved by Gov. Robert McDonnell, R, who opposed abortion rights when he served in the General Assembly. The rules are considered emergency regulations that could be in effect for as long as 18 months before the board approves permanent rules.