Friday, April 20, 2012

House approves licensing of abortion facilities; bill now headed to Gov. Dayton

The following news release was issued today, April 20.

ST. PAUL — Legislation to require licensure of abortion facilities was approved by the Minnesota House today on a bipartisan 80-47 vote. The vote on the measure seeking women's safety followed its approval by the Senate on Apr. 18; the bill has the strong support of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL).

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 existing licensing requirements of outpatient surgical centers to abortion facilities. The bill also authorizes the state commissioner of health to perform inspections of abortion facilities, with no prior notice required.

"This common-sense legislation has been recognized by both the House and Senate as important for 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."

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 severing 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 six abortion facilities, which together perform the vast majority 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 provider. In 2010, it performed more than 4,000 abortions, or more than 75 per week. Ambulances have been called to Planned Parenthood's St. Paul abortion facility twice in recent months, bringing to light the need for inspection and licensing of such facilities.

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

The measure to license abortion facilities as other outpatient surgical centers now goes to Gov. Dayton for his consideration.

"The people of Minnesota have agreed that the Minnesota Department of Health should establish licensure of abortion facilities, and MCCL calls on Gov. Dayton to sign the bill," Rau added.