Ariz. House Advances Bill Authorizing Unannounced Abortion Clinic Inspections

March 6, 2014 — The Arizona House on Tuesday approved a measure (HB 2284) that would allow the state to conduct unannounced inspections of abortion clinics, the New York Times reports (Stephenson, New York Times, 3/4).

The bill, proposed by state Rep. Debbie Lesko (R), would eliminate a requirement that the state Department of Health Services obtain an administrative warrant before unannounced inspections at any of the state's nine abortion clinics. The bill also would require clinics to report to the state if "an infant is born alive after a botched abortion" (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/28).

The House approved the bill in a nearly party-line vote, with just one Republican lawmaker voting against the measure and one Democrat voting for it. The bill now heads to the state Senate, where it has strong support from the Republican majority (New York Times, 3/4).

If the bill passes and is signed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R), Arizona would join 10 other states that permit unannounced abortion clinic inspections, according to the Guttmacher Institute (Schwartz, Reuters, 3/4).

House Debate

Lesko said the bill is not "a pro-life versus pro-choice issue," but rather "about the healthiness of a facility where a woman goes to get a procedure done."

However, state Rep. Lisa Otondo (D) called the bill "a slap in the face to women and to taxpayers who end up paying for unconstitutional bills." According to Reuters, opponents of the bill said it would almost certainly be challenged in court if it becomes law.

According to Reuters, several opponents contested claims by the bill's supporters that the proposed bill would not face the same issues as a 1999 law that permitted similar inspections. That measure was struck down as unconstitutional, and the state in 2010 enacted new clinic regulations. Planned Parenthood Arizona President Bryan Howard said the current bill would "open the door to provider and patient harassment" (Reuters, 3/4).