Christine Dhanagom


Minnesota governor rejects measure to ensure safety of state abortion facilities

Christine Dhanagom

ST. PAUL, April 30, 2012 ( - A bill that would enact new licensing and inspection requirements for abortion clinics faces an uphill battle in Minnesota, after Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed it last week.

“Once again, Gov. Dayton has come to the defense of the abortion industry at the expense of women’s safety,” said Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) Executive Director Scott Fischbach. “This is the seventh pro-life initiative that would protect women and unborn children that has been vetoed. The Dayton record is now clear: he is no friend of women or their babies.”

The legislation would require any facility that performs 10 or more abortions a month to be licensed by the state’s commissioner of health for an annual fee of $3,712. Clinics would also be subject to up to two surprise inspections a year, and could lose their license if evidence of fraud, illegal activity, or dangerous health practices is uncovered.

Dayton called the bill “inappropriate and unworkable” when he vetoed it, complaining that the language was too vague and unfairly singled out abortion clinics.

“If regulation of clinics were the concern, the bill should have required licensure of all clinics, not just a select few,” he wrote.

The governor also said that “a lack of oversight of clinics that provide abortions is not an issue” in Minnesota, citing already existing oversight by government agencies that enforce building codes, workplace safety, and oversee physician licensure.

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Dayton also claimed that clinic safety was ensured by the National Abortion Federation (NAF), which he said “sets clinical policy for performing abortions.” The NAF was embroiled in controversy last year when revelations surfaced that a representative with the organization had known of some of the horrific conditions at the Philadelphia clinic run by Kermit Gosnell, who is currently awaiting trial for the murder of one women and seven newborns.

According to a grand jury report, the NAF rejected Gosnell’s application for membership after an inspector visited his clinic in 2009. The inspector observed broken equipment, insufficient records, and a failure to observe basic standards of care such as taking the vital signs of sedated patients. The jurors who authored the report criticized the organization for purporting to “promote health and justice for women” while failing to report Gosnell to authorities.

The Gosnell case was cited during debate at the Minnesota house by Rep. Kathy Lohmer.

According to Bill Poehler, Communications Director with Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, government oversight is also insufficient because of a loophole in state licensing regulations that allows abortion facilities to evade more stringent oversight requirements by avoiding classification as out-patient surgical centers.

“They’re trying to claim that we singled them out but it’s just the opposite. Abortion clinics have a special exception now, and we don’t believe that is just or in the interests of women. Our intent was to put into place some very basic and reasonable licensing requirements,” Poehler told LifeSiteNews.

He added that abortion facilities should be legally treated as out-patient surgical centers rather than medical clinics because they “don’t provide a range of medical services.”

“Clinics are places where people go for general medical care, if they have an infection, or an allergy, or a virus or something,” he said. The treatment provided at abortion facilities, in contrast, is “very narrow,” and consists “primarily” in surgical abortions.

If passed, the legislation would affect six abortion facilities in the state, according to the governor’s office. Supporters of the measure are trying for an over-ride, but are a few votes shy in the Senate, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Claire Robling, told the Minnesota Star Tribune.

Even if the veto is not overridden, the debate itself has helped to put the issue in the public eye, says Peohler.

“We will probably launch an effort to inform women that they enter these places at their own risk because the State Department of Health cannot guarantee their safety,” he commented.

To contact Gov. Dayton’s office click here.

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