Abortion facility licensing bill rewritten to boost support
ST. PAUL — A bill to require licensing of abortion facilities has been rewritten in order to widen support at the Legislature. The new language has the strong support of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), which held a press conference today and called on legislators to approve the measure. The bill seeks to protect women by ensuring abortion facilities follow their own industry standards. Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation (NAF) have their own clinical policy standards for abortion facilities seeking industry membership or accreditation. H.F. 812 / S.F. 704, authored by Rep. Deb Kiel, R-Crookston, and Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, would require abortion facilities to abide by those standards to be eligible for state licensure. The requirement would apply to the state's five abortion facilities, which together perform 99 percent of abortions in Minnesota. In 2015, a total of 9,861 abortions were performed in the state. "The goal of this bill is to prevent the dangerous, horrific circumstances that have occurred in abortion facilities in other states," said MCCL Legislative Director Andrea Rau. "This new language satisfies the concerns raised by lawmakers and Gov. Dayton, while applying established standards intended to protect women’s health and lives." In hearings earlier in the 2017 session, pro-choice legislators expressed opposition to abortion facilities being licensed as outpatient surgical centers, even though these facilities perform one of the most common outpatient surgical procedures. MCCL worked with the authors to address this objection by replacing those licensing standards with policies established by the abortion industry itself. Abortion facilities would be inspected by the Minnesota Department of Health at least once every two years to ensure that these industry requirements are being met. "This amended language puts the focus where it needs to be—on women, women's health and women's safety," said Rep. Kiel. "Women must be our priority, not the abortion industry. We cannot shield abortion facilities from even the standards required by their own organizations at the risk of women’s lives." "This bill can no longer be dismissed as one that singles out the abortion industry for special regulation," said Sen. Fischbach. "Lawmakers who support Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation ought to welcome the longstanding health and safety guidelines of these organizations being applied in Minnesota. I urge all legislators and Gov. Dayton to support this effort to protect women."