Ariz. Bill Would Allow Unscheduled Abortion Clinic Inspections

February 18, 2014 — An Arizona bill (HB 2284) that would allow unannounced inspections at abortion clinics advanced out of committee on Thursday in a party-line vote, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Currently, the state Department of Health Services must obtain an administrative warrant to conduct unscheduled inspections of the state's nine abortion clinics (Christie, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2/13).

State Rep. Debbie Lesko (R), the bill's sponsor, said the department is already allowed to conduct unscheduled inspections of hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities. She said, "I see no reason why supporters of abortion would be against having inspections just like every other health industry" (Fischer, Arizona Daily Sun, 2/14).

Democrats on the state House Reform and Human Services Committee opposed the measure because of concerns about patient privacy (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2/13).

Bryan Howard, president of Planned Parenthood Arizona, said the legislation, if enacted, would "undoubtedly lead to litigation." He noted that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the state Legislature's previous attempt at enacting unannounced inspections at abortion clinics.

A state health inspector who is opposed to abortion rights could make a surprise visit to look around and bother patients and doctors, he said. He said the appeals court ruled that "[b]oth the health care providers of abortion services and women seeking abortion have a constitutionally protected heightened right to privacy" (Arizona Daily Sun, 2/14).