House Committee Approves Abortion Facility Licensing and Inspection

State licensing of outpatient surgical centers would be applied to abortion industry

ST. PAUL, MN – A bill to license abortion facilities in Minnesota was approved by the House Government Operations and Elections Policy committee Tuesday.

H.F. 812 (S.F. 704), authored by Rep. Deb Kiel, (R – Crookston), would require facilities that perform ten or more abortions per month to be licensed by the state commissioner of health the same way as outpatient surgical centers. The bill also authorizes the commissioner to perform inspections of abortion facilities as deemed necessary, without prior notice being required.

Legislative Director for Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) Andrea Rau testified that multiple violations of state regulations have been uncovered at licensed businesses. Rau’s examples include recent state inspections finding 28 violations at a nail salon and half of its staff unlicensed. Rau also testified that thousands of complaints are filed each year against licensed nursing homes.

“Not very long ago, a grand jury report regarding a Pennsylvania abortion facility, the doctor who ran it, and several of his staff, was able to stun our nation—pro-life and pro-choice alike—by shedding light on the unsanitary, illegal and unsafe abortions that were happening at a clinic there,” Rau testified.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, who ran the facility, and others were found guilty of a variety of charges, and are now in prison.

“To the best of our knowledge, none of the five abortion facilities in Minnesota come anywhere near the unsanitary, illegal, and unsafe conditions that were found at the clinic in Pennsylvania; but we believe the state should act to ensure that such conditions never occur in our state,” Rau added.

According to MCCL, Minnesota’s five abortion facilities perform 99 percent of all abortions in the state. In 2015, a total of 9,861 abortions were performed in the state.

Andrea Ledger, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota testified against the bill calling it unconstitutional. Referring back to the Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Women’s Health et al. v. Hellerstedt, Ledger states the bill in question is just as unconstitutional as the Texas case as it fails the unnecessary burden test.

Rau explained the bill was different than the law found in Texas because it didn’t require admitting regulations and offered waivers for some regulations as long as it doesn’t interfere with the health and safety of women.

Rep. Laurie Halverson (DFL – Eagan) admonished Keil for disguising an anti-abortion law as a women’s protection law saying, “If you don’t want people to have an abortion it’s fine, it’s an opinion that we can have a debate about at the state.”

Rep. Cheryl Youakim (DFL- Hopkins) pointed out the inclusion of a severability clause within the bill, stating, “It’s included when they might not consider some parts of it constitutional.”

Rau responded to the statement saying, “There’s always a threat that pro-life legislation will face court.”

The bill passed with a voice vote and is headed to the Health and Human Finance Committee.