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House passes measure to require licensure of abortion clinics

By Chris Steller
Rep. Deb Kiel presents HF812, a bill that would require abortion facilities to be licensed, to members on the House Floor April 24. Photo by Andrew VonBank

Providers of abortions could need a license from the state to operate.

A new licensure program, including inspections every two years, a $365 biennial license fee and a system for suspension or revocation is envisioned in HF812, sponsored by Rep. Debra Kiel (R-Crookston).

As amended, the House passed the bill Monday 79-53. It now moves to the Senate, where Senate President Michelle Fischbach (R-Paynesville) is the sponsor.

As of July 1, 2018, the commissioner of health would be responsible for issuing licenses to facilities where 10 or more elective abortions are performed monthly, not including separately licensed hospitals and outpatient surgical centers.

“We are not looking to shut down abortion facilities,” Kiel said. “We are working to make sure that women are our priority.” While there’s no reason to believe existing facilities fall short of industry standards, she said there is “nothing stopping another facility from opening up that doesn’t meet this standard.”

To be eligible, a facility would need accreditation or to belong to a membership organization; losing either could lead to loss of a license.

The commissioner would also have authority to suspend, revoke or refuse to grant or renew a license on other grounds. They include:

  • conduct or practices detrimental to the patient’s welfare;
  • fraud or misrepresentation in obtaining or seeking a license; or
  • permitting, aiding or abetting commission of an illegal act.

The House adopted an amendment offered by Kiel, as amended, raising the license fee from $345 to $365 and adjusting the appropriation to $55,000 in Fiscal Year 2018 and $8,000 in Fiscal Year 2019.

DFLers offered two amendments. The first, offered by Rep. Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul), would have required health plans to cover prescription contraceptives. The second, offered by Rep. Laurie Halverson (DFL-Eagan), would have required that laws covering medical providers be “science-based.” House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) ruled both lacked germaneness, and members upheld his rulings on appeal by roll call votes.

Several DFLers said the state already regulates abortion facilities by licensing doctors and other medical professionals, and noted that other medical procedures aren’t covered under the bill.

“For some reason, we single out health care that women receive for special legislative interference and analysis,” Halverson said. 

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