Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dayton blocks licensing of abortion facilities

The following was released today, April 26.

ST. PAUL — Legislation to institute minimal safety standards at abortion facilities was vetoed today by Gov. Mark Dayton. The veto of the women's safety measure follows its overwhelming bipartisan approval by the Legislature with the backing of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL).

"This veto highlights Gov. Dayton's commitment to protecting the abortion industry, even when it results in putting women's health at risk," said MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. "Abortion is one of the most common medical procedures in Minnesota, and there is no way for women to know if they are going to be in a safe or clean facility."

S.F. 1921 was authored by Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville, and Sen. Claire Robling, R-Jordan, who sought to bring the state's six surgical abortion facilities in line with the state's other outpatient surgical centers. The bill would have required facilities that perform 10 or more abortions per month to be licensed, and authorized the state department of health to perform inspections of abortion facilities. In 2010, a total of 11,505 abortions were performed in the state.

"Women need to know that the Department of Health has zero oversight of abortion facilities and cannot ensure their safety, because Gov. Dayton has forbidden it," Fischbach continued.

Abortion facilities have been granted special exemption from licensing that governs other outpatient surgical centers in the state. Planned Parenthood and the ACLU testified against the bill in committee hearings, arguing that abortion facilities should remain unlicensed and uninspected. However, state lawmakers agreed that this exemption cannot be justified when it comes to safeguarding women.

In a letter to Dayton after the bill was approved by the Legislature, Holberg and Robling defended the requirements as reasonable and sensible.

"Prior to the legalization of abortion in 1973, supporters of abortion often argued that the procedure should be brought out of the back rooms in order to protect the well-being of women. Without state licensing and inspections, there is no guarantee that women's health is being protected," they wrote. "This proposed regulation is to provide protection before a dangerous situation develops."