Minnesota Senate OKs Bill to Inspect Abortion Centers

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 18, 2012   |   4:18PM   |   St. Paul, MN

The Minnesota state Senate today 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.

This week, the Minnesota House Ways and Means committee approved the bill and, today, the Minnesota Senate approved its version on a bipartisan 43-23 vote. The vote on the measure seeking women’s safety followed its approval by several committees and the bill 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 legislation would apply licensing requirements of outpatient surgical centers to abortion providers. The bill also authorizes the state commissioner of health to perform inspections of abortion facilities, with no prior notice required.

“The Senate has acted on behalf of the safety of women by passing this reasonable legislation today,” said MCCL Legislative Associate Andrea Rau. “There is no reason for abortion facilities to be given special exemption from licensing that governs other outpatient surgical centers in the state.”

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 facility 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 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.

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

Planned Parenthood and the ACLU testified against the bill in Senate committee hearings, arguing that abortion facilities should remain unlicensed and uninspected.

The legislation is expected to be heard by the Minnesota House soon.