Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Abortion facility licensing bill approved in final House hearing

The following news release was issued today, April 17.

ST. PAUL— Legislation to require licensure of abortion facilities was approved by the Minnesota House Ways and Means committee late yesterday. The vote on the measure seeking women's safety completed the hearing process for the bill, which has the strong support of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL).

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."

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. At least two 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 abortion facilities licensing bill will now be heard on the floor of the House.