A bill that would give the secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals the authority to immediately suspend the operations of abortion clinics that do not comply with federal or state standards sailed out of the House on Monday on an 89-0 vote.
Times-Picayune archiveLouisiana state CapitolHouse Bill 1370 by Rep. Fred Mills, D-St. Martinville, now heads to the Senate for debate.
Mills said the state agency does not have the authority to immediately close abortion clinics even if they pose "an imminent danger" to the health of the patient, although it does have that power with other health care providers such as adult residential care centers, substance abuse clinics and home health agencies.
"This brings abortion clinics into the same compliance" as other facilities, Mills said.
Now, he said, abortion clinics can stay open pending a court hearing.
The bill would give the secretary of the department the power to deny, refuse to renew or revoke an existing license of an abortion clinic if an investigation determines that it is in violation of state or federal law.
The department would give the clinic 30 days notice to appeal, specifying the reasons for denying or revoking the operating license, but could order immediate closure if the clinic's conditions "pose an imminent or immediate threat to the health, welfare or safety of a client or patient."
Mills said the clinic could seek a court order to stay in business if it can show the agency acted arbitrarily.
If a license is revoked, or renewal is denied, Mills' bill said, the owner or operation of the clinic would be barred from managing, running or owning another clinic in the state.
Mills said under existing law, an abortion clinic can reapply for a license the day after its permit has been revoked.
"The department must be able to ensure the welfare of women looking to receive these services," Mills said. "In order to do this, the department must have meaningful regulatory powers."
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A bill that would require women seeking an abortion to complete a lengthy questionnaire that includes questions about their race and relationships has passed the Oklahoma House.
With little discussion and no debate, the House voted 88-8 Monday for the Statistical Reporting on Abortion Act. It now heads to the Senate.
The bill requires women to fill out a lengthy survey that asks, among other things, about their race, education and reason for seeking an abortion. The Health Department ultimately would compile the information into a statistical report and post it on its Web site.
Abortion-rights groups say the questionnaire is an intrusion into a woman's privacy, but supporters say the information will help guide policy makers to prevent abortions.