Minnesota House and Senate Pass New Rules On Telemed Abortions and Clinic Licensing

Minnesota Republicans are jumping on the anti-choice bandwagon and have passed two new bills designed to add more burdensome regulation on abortion providers.

The Republican dominated House voted overwhelmingly to make it a felony to dispense RU-486 without a doctor in the room, and that the doctor must be present when it is ingested as well.

The new regulations on RU-486 are in reaction to a new clinic in Rochester that was providing “telemed” abortions to other clinics in more remote areas of the state that did not have available abortion providers.  If the bill becomes law, the felony charges would cut off most rural women from being able to obtain an abortion without being forced to travel to one of the large metro areas to find a provider.

Democrats opposed the bill, reminding law makers that the claim that anti-choice politicians are simply trying to make women “safer” is bogus, especially since the effects are not immediate. 

Meanwhile, in the Senate a bill that would require all clinics that provide more than 10 abortions a year to be licensed was proposed.  The bill, which was also heard in House committee as well, would allow the health department to perform unannounced inspections of clinic facilities, and ask clinics to apply the same medical standards as outpatient surgical facilities.  Should the bill pass, the new requirements would be likely to cost abortion providers thousands of dollars to update their clinics.

“House committee members have acknowledged that requiring abortion facilities to be licensed is entirely reasonable for the safety of women,” said MCCL Legislative Associate Andrea Rau via statement. “MCCL calls on [Minnesota Democratic Governor Mark] Dayton to sign this much-needed legislation when it reaches his desk.”

Linnea House, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota, disagrees. “Both laws are clearly attempts to strip a woman’s right to choose.  The idea that this is addressing women’s health is a complete falacy.  Data has proved that this is not needed in Minnesota.  Since Roe V. Wade was passed we have never had a death as a result of safe, legal abortion in Minnesota.  The fact that this is presented as a woman safety issue is completely not true.”

Dayton, a reproductive rights supporter, has previously vetoed any anti-choice legislation that has reached his desk, and the state legislature lacks the votes needed to override a veto.

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  • stacey-burns

    Stripping the telemedicine option is bad policy, period.

    However, Rochester–along with Duluth, St. Cloud, and the Twin Cities–is already regarded as one of Minnesota’s metro areas. That is, the telemedicine option can be an attractive choice for someone who is an appropriate candidate for and chooses that method of abortion, but the fact remains that there are only six facilities in all of Minnesota that provide surgical abortion: five are in the Twin Cities, and one is in Duluth, a two and a half hour drive to the north of the Cities.  If you live anywhere else, you’re looking at a long trip starting in the middle of the night on possibly icy roads to get to your 8 am appointment in an unfamiliar city.

    We should be expanding options for Minnesota’s citizens, not further limiting them. Our legislature seems determined to keep us in the early 20th century, when fear of pregnancy kept women from leading full lives.