Women's Health Protection Act: HB 2284

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Women's Health Protection Act: HB 2284

Requires abortion clinics to be subject to the same safety and inspection standards as all other health care institutions. Also makes it a crime to help a minor obtain an abortion and avoid Arizona’s parental consent requirement.

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Fact Sheet

Executive Summary

Abortion clinics are shockingly the only health care institutions in Arizona that the Department of Health Services (DHS) cannot immediately inspect upon reasonable cause to believe a violation is occurring. To even conduct an inspection, government authorities must first obtain a warrant. Furthermore, after a clinic’s initial inspection upon licensure and follow-up inspection one year later, if there are no deficiencies found, abortion clinics are only subject to further inspections every two years. HB 2284 corrects this problem by allowing DHS to address complaints or concerns about abortion clinics in a timely manner. Additionally, HB 2284 makes it a misdemeanor to help a minor avoid Arizona’s parental consent requirements and obtain an abortion. Finally, in response to admissions made in an undercover video of an abortion clinic, HB 2284 requires that abortion clinics report whenever an infant is born alive after a botched abortion and report what steps are taken to save that child’s life. 

Background

Last year, the pro-life organization Live Action released an undercover video showing a Phoenix abortion clinic potentially violating Arizona law and regulations governing abortion clinics.[1] In that video, an abortion doctor admitted that if an infant survives an abortion, nothing is done to try to save that child’s life even though Arizona law requires that doctors “use all available means and medical skills…to promote, preserve, and maintain the life” of that child.[2]

In addition to these revelations in Arizona, the trial and conviction against Pennsylvania late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell showed the horrors that can occur in an abortion clinic when they go unchecked. The combination of these events reinforces the need for the strictest regulations possible in Arizona in order to protect women and preborn children from the deadly and dangerous practices of the abortion industry.

Currently, upon reasonable cause that a violation of law is occurring in a health care institution, DHS has the authority to perform an unannounced inspection. This health and safety standard applies to all health care institutions except abortion clinics.[3] To inspect an abortion clinic, DHS must first obtain a warrant from a judge, which prevents DHS from addressing complaints or potential violations in a timely manner.

In 1999, the Arizona legislature passed a law establishing regulations for abortion clinics.[4] The passage of this legislation was in response to the tragic death of Lou Anne Herron from a botched abortion at a Phoenix abortion clinic. The abortion industry immediately challenged the law in court. The law’s provision granting DHS the ability to perform reasonable cause, unannounced inspections on abortion clinics was struck down by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as violating clinics’ Fourth Amendment rights.[5] However, the court discussed the “administrative exception” to the Fourth Amendment, which allows these types of searches for businesses that are closely regulated. Since the abortion clinic licensing structure was new at the time of that case, the court considered abortion clinics to not be closely regulated.[6] That circumstance has changed in the last ten years, as abortion clinics must now be licensed, participate in mandatory reporting, and comply with numerous laws.[7]

Because abortion clinics are now closely regulated, DHS should have the authority to perform reasonable cause, unannounced inspections of abortion clinics, just as they do with every other type of health care institution. HB 2284 ensures that women within abortion clinics have just as much protection as those in other health care institutions by allowing DHS to inspect potential violations in a timely manner.

Additionally, current law imposes no criminal penalty against individuals that help a minor avoid Arizona’s parental consent requirements and obtain an abortion. Whether this happens in Arizona or whether an individual takes a minor out of state to obtain an abortion and avoid Arizona’s parental consent laws, such conduct should carry a legal consequence. HB 2284 makes it a First Degree Misdemeanor to intentionally cause, aid, or assist a minor in obtaining an abortion that violates Arizona’s parental consent requirements.

Finally, because of the shocking admission made by the abortion doctor in the Live Action video, HB 2284 requires that abortion clinics report whenever an infant is born alive after a botched abortion and report what is done to save that child’s life.

Talking Points

  • At a minimum, abortion clinics should be held to the same standards as other medical facilities. Right now, abortion clinics are the only medical facilities that state and county inspectors are not able to inspect in a timely manner after having reasonable cause to believe a violation has occurred.
  • Arizona should not value the safety of women in abortion clinics less than women and men in all other health care institutions.
  • The Live Action investigation into a Phoenix late-term abortion clinic, along with the revelations from the trial of abortionist and convicted murderer Dr. Kermit Gosnell, show the need for further action from the legislature. Ensuring abortion clinics are subject to the same inspections as any other medical facilities is a small step that could help avoid great tragedy.

Conclusion

HB 2284 puts the safety standards that apply to abortion clinics on the same level as all other health care institutions by allowing for potential violations to be inspected by DHS in a timely manner. It also establishes safeguards to ensure Arizona’s regulations of abortion are not violated.


[1] Live Action, Inhuman: Undercover in America’s Late-Term Abortion Industry, http://www.liveaction.org/inhuman/investigation-3-phoenix-az/; Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 36-2301 through 36-2301.01.

[2] Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 36-2301.

[3] Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 36-424(D).

[4] House Bill 2706, 44th Legislature 1st Regular Session, http://www.azleg.gov//FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/legtext/44leg/1r/bills/hb2706c.htm&Session_ID=60; Ariz. Admin. Code R9-10-15 – Abortion Clinics, http://www.azsos.gov/public_services/title_09/9-10.htm#ARTICLE_15.

[5] Tucson Woman’s Clinic v. Eden, 379 F.3d 531 (9th Cir. 2004).

[6] Id. at 550.No.

[7] Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 36-449, 36-449.01 through 36-449.03, 36-2161 through 36-2163, 36-2301.02; Ariz. Admin. Code R9-10-15 – Abortion Clinics, http://www.azsos.gov/public_services/title_09/9-10.htm#ARTICLE_15.

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