Arizona Senate Panel OKs Abortion Clinic Bill

March 13, 2014

(Photo courtesy of the Arizona State Legislature)
State Rep. Debbie Lesko.

A bill allowing surprise inspections of abortion clinics has taken another step ahead in the Arizona Legislature. The measure was approved Wednesday night by the Senate Health Committee.

House Bill 2284 has been described by supporters as a vital tool for health inspectors, who now must get a warrant to make unannounced searches of abortion providers.

Its sponsor, Rep. Debbie Lesko, said all other healthcare facilities in the state are subject to such inspections.

“We also in this state last year had an undercover video at a non-Planned Paenthood abortion clinic that clearly showed that the clinic was not following the laws that you all have, have passed and that have been upheld and so that there was a need to find out what is going on inside that abortion clinic," said Cathi Herrod, with the Center for Arizona Policy.

Phoenix Democrat Katie Hobbs said abortion clinics are subject to higher standards than any other healthcare facility and that staffers and patients also face harassment from protestors.

Lesko testified Wednesday that the bill she is sponsoring only attempts to remove a warrant requirement that only applies to abortion providers, but Planned Parenthood of Arizona President Bryan Howard said state officials can do any number of inquiries without the need for a warrant.

The Arizona Department of Health Services has sought only one warrant in the past four years. It happened just days before the bill was first heard in the House last month. The House approved it last week.

The measure next heads to the Senate Rules Committee.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Updated 3/13/2014 at 2:22 p.m.