Minnesota Senate Cmte OKs Bill to Inspect Abortion Clinics

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 13, 2012   |   7:36PM   |  

Legislation to require licensure of abortion centers was approved by the Minnesota Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee today on an 8-5 vote. It was the second hearing for the measure seeking women’s safety, and has the strong support of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL).

S.F. 1921 (H.F. 2340), authored by Sen. Claire Robling, R-Jordan, would require facilities that perform 10 or more abortions per month to be licensed. The state commissioner of health would establish rules necessary for licensure. The bill also authorizes the commissioner to perform inspections of abortion facilities as deemed necessary, with no prior notice required.

“The state already licenses other similar facilities, including hospitals, outpatient surgical centers, and many more—even facilities that specialize in body art like tattoos and piercings,” MCCL Legislative Associate Andrea Rau testified.

Rau also discussed the filthy conditions found at an abortion clinic in Pennsylvania, which did not license or inspect abortion centers. Several women died, others contracted venereal diseases from unsanitary equipment, and babies born alive were killed. Once discovered, the clinic was called a “house of horrors” by grand jury investigators. S.F. 1921 would protect women from such dangers.

The requirement would apply to the state’s seven abortion clinics, which together perform more than 98 percent of all abortions in Minnesota. In 2010, a total of 11,505 abortions were performed in the state.

Planned Parenthood is the state’s largest abortion provider. In 2010, it performed more than 4,000 abortions, or more than 75 per week. Last week an ambulance was called to transport someone from Planned Parenthood’s new St. Paul abortion clinic, bringing to light the need for inspection and licensing of such facilities.

Sen. Robling listed the many serious complications that can result from various surgical and non-surgical abortion methods. She also noted that other states have established abortion clinic licensure laws, which have been upheld by the courts in legal challenges.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized that maternal health is a legitimate interest to support regulations regarding abortion,” Sen. Robling said.

In her testimony on behalf of the bill, Prof. Teresa Collett of the University of St. Thomas School of Law noted that in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states can regulate abortion clinic practices throughout the duration of the pregnancy.

“Surely in the abortion debate in this state, we can agree on one thing: that women who choose abortion have a right to know that the clinics they are being treated by observe the highest standard of professional responsibility and sanitary equipment,” Collett said.