Minnesota Panel OKs Abortion Facility Inspections Bill

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 17, 2012   |   3:45PM   |   St. Paul, MN

A Minnesota legislative panel has approved legislation allowing the state health department to inspect abortion facilities and require them to be licensed with the state to ensure they are not putting women’s health at risk.

Similar bills in other states have allowed health departments to close down abortion centers that can’t manage to follow the basic health and safety laws legitimate medical centers are expected to follow.

The Minnesota House Ways and Means committee approved the bill late Monday and the measure has the strong support of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, the state’s largest pro-life group.

H.F. 2340 (S.F. 1921), authored by Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville, would require facilities that perform 10 or more abortions per month to be licensed. The legislation would apply licensing requirements of outpatient surgical centers to abortion providers, which are unlicensed and uninspected. The bill also authorizes the state commissioner of health to perform inspections of abortion facilities, with no prior notice required.

“House committee members have acknowledged that requiring abortion facilities to be licensed is entirely reasonable for the safety of women,” said MCCL Legislative Associate Andrea Rau. “MCCL calls on Gov. Dayton to sign this much-needed legislation when it reaches his desk.”

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The need for the measure was brought to light by filthy conditions found at an abortion facility in Pennsylvania, which did not license or inspect abortion facilities. Several women died, others contracted venereal diseases from unsanitary equipment, and babies born alive were killed by cutting their spinal cords. Once discovered, the clinic was called a “house of horrors” by grand jury investigators. H.F. 2340 would protect women from such dangers.

The requirement would apply to the state’s seven abortion facilities, 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.

The legislation originally directed the Minnesota Department of Health to establish licensing requirements for abortion facilities. The bill was amended to apply existing requirements of outpatient surgical centers to abortion facilities.

The bill will now be heard on the full state House floor.