Several pro-life amendments supported by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) were offered in the Minnesota House of Representatives on Monday. All were approved as part of the $11 billion health and human services budget bill and the health insurance exchange bill the House passed late last night.
Rep. John Ward, DFL-Baxter, took up the issue of licensing abortion facilities by offering an amendment that contains the language of H.F. 900. The amendment requires that abortion facilities be licensed in the same manner as outpatient surgical centers, and also allow for up to two inspections per year.
Abortion facilities are currently neither licensed nor inspected; the Ward amendment would ensure that abortion facilities are abiding by Minnesota’s existing laws. The requirement would apply to the state’s five abortion facilities, which together perform the vast majority of all abortions in Minnesota. In 2011, a total of 11,071 abortions were performed in the state. The amendment passed on a vote of 71-62.
“This common-sense legislation is necessary to ensure the safety of women,” 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.”
Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville, offered an amendment to H.F. 779, the health insurance exchange bill, specifying that abortion would not be included in the essential health benefit package for policies sold in the exchange. Because the essential health benefit package sets the minimum required benefits, abortion could still be offered in policies sold in the exchange; however, it would not be a mandated benefit. The language of the amendment makes an exception for abortions done to save the life of the mother, and in cases where the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. Rep. Holberg’s amendment was approved 70-64.
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“Abortion is not health care, and House members rightly agreed that it ought not be considered essential to health insurance coverage,” Rau said. “Abortion is an elective procedure in nearly every case.”
Another H.F. 779 amendment to update an existing law stating that insurance companies can’t be required to provide abortion coverage was offered by Rep. Patti Fritz, DFL-Faribault. Although the law (145.414) already covers insurance carriers operating in the exchange, this amendment serves to clarify the intent of the Legislature. The House passed the amendment on a 71-63 vote.