MN Senate committee passes two anti-abortion bills
|Despite little evidence that abortion-inducing drugs pose health risks, Sen. Gazelka wants to make accessing them more difficult.|
Yesterday, a divided Senate committee passed two anti-abortion measures -- one that would require the physical presence of a doctor when an abortion is performed, and another that would require licenses and random inspections for clinics that provide abortions.
With regard to the the physical presence measure, Sen. Dan Hall, R-Burnsville, said "I think it's too easy to give the permission without being there yourself to see what's been done, and what you're doing."
Opponents of the bill say the abortion-inducing drug, RU-486, is associated with fewer patient deaths than Tylenol or Viagra, nullifying any argument that the bill is about protecting women's health. According to the Pioneer Press, in 2010, drug-induced abortions accounted for 2,378 of the 11,550 abortions in the state.
Last year, Planned Parenthood introduced a program where doctors at its St. Paul clinic videoconference with counsel patients in Rochester about medication abortions. Abortion-inducing drugs are dispensed to patients from a locked safe in the Rochester exam room that the physician opens remotely. The physical presence bill would outlaw this program.
Citing RU-486's relatively low risk, Sen. John Marty, D-Roseville, said "when someone comes in with a bill that says you've got to have a physician physically present for taking Viagra, then I'll take this bill seriously." The bill was introduced by Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Brainerd.
|Sen. Robling's bill would charge abortion-providing clinics a fee for licensing and inspection.|
The licensing and inspection bill, introduced by Sen. Clair Robling, R-Jordan, extends the same degree of oversight currently applied to businesses like game farms and nursing homes to abortion-providing clinics.
Robling said "there's licensing and inspections for numerous areas of operation that we have throughout the state, so when I become aware that this was not happening with these clinics, I thought it would be appropriate."
Proponents of Robling's bill say the criminal charges resulting from a Philadelphia clinic called a "house of horrors" by prosecutors demonstrates the need for more stringent oversight of abortion-providing clinics, but a spokesman from the Minnesota Department of Health expressed concern about the expense of designing rules and allotting staff for the licensing and inspection procedures. In a move Republicans presumably hope will reduce the number of Minnesota clinics offering abortions, the cost of licensing and inspection would be passed along to the clinics themselves.
The bills are now headed to the full Senate. Even if they pass the GOP-controlled Senate and House, the bills almost certainly face a veto from Gov. Dayton, who vetoed several abortion-restricting bills during last year's legislative session.