News Abortion

Minnesota Citizens Concerned For Life Accuses Clinic of Law Breaking Due to Internet Evidence

Robin Marty

MCCL accuses a local clinic of breaking the law because the website isn't clear enough for them.

Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life hasn’t had much success in recent years when it comes to pushing legislation. Despite the anti-choice majority in the House, and, in previous years, majorities in the House and Senate, Democratic Governor Mark Dayton has vetoed all of their pet bills, undermining their influence in the policy debate.

Unhappy with their lack of power, the Minnesota branch of National Right to Life have decided to take the battle to cut off access to safe abortion care to the public square by accusing a local clinic of violating abortion regulations. MCCL has accused Whole Women’s Health of breaking the state’s 24-hour waiting period for so-called “informed consent” prior to abortion. Their evidence?

The website read “Same day procedures offered in our Twin Cities office.”

MCCL admits they never contacted the clinic about what they saw. Instead, they jumped right to filing a complaint with the state and calling a press conference to denounce the provider.  National Right to Life News claims that that “At a minimum, this information is false and misleading to women if indeed they cannot walk in and have their unborn child aborted. If Whole Woman’s Health will perform a same-day abortion, it is clearly illegal.” Scott Fischbach, MCCL Executive Director, cites the website and his own unfounded accusations as a clear sign that the state needs to license clinics that provide abortions and force them to rebuild as surgical centers, despite no clear explanation of how exactly that would address his allegations of waiting period violations even if they were in fact true.

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Why would the group be so intent on bringing a non-issue like this out into the public for an immediate press conference? Because like many on the anti-choice side, they are part of a coordinated effort to call for TRAP laws requiring excessive regulation of abortion clinics in wake of the Kermit Gosnell murder trial. Just as the discovery of Gosnell’s illegal abortion practice in 2011 was used in Pennsylvania as the impetus for passing a TRAP law that closed a majority of the safe, legal clinics in the state, other groups are hoping to cash in on the growing media coverage of his trial to convince more states to pass unnecessary licensing and rebuilding laws in the name of “stopping more Gosnells.”

Whole Woman’s Health has told the Pioneer Press that is has never violated the 24-hour law, and the accusations are baseless. “Women who phone the clinic are told they can get same-day consultation with a physician, [Terry Sallas Merritt, executive director of the clinic] said, but the actual abortion procedure would follow the consult call by at least 24 hours….’We’ve never had a woman call us who was the least bit confused.'”

But to be completely sure, the group has now reworded the sentence online to read “Same day surgical consult in our Twin Cities location.” MCCL will have to drum up a new fake outrage to justify a TRAP bill.

News Abortion

Minnesota Lawmakers Vote Down Clinic Inspections Amendment

Teddy Wilson

The amendment to the Minnesota Health and Human Services omnibus bill was defeated in the state senate by a 32-29 vote, mostly along partisan lines, with four anti-choice Democrats joining Republicans in supporting the measure.

Minnesota legislators voted down an amendment last week that would have required increased inspection and licensing requirements for clinics that provide abortion services, increasingly common regulations passed by GOP-dominated state legislatures.

An amendment sponsored by Sen. Michelle Fischbach (R-Paynesville) to the Minnesota Health and Human Services omnibus bill was defeated in the state senate by a 32-29 vote, mostly along partisan lines, with four anti-choice Democrats joining Republicans in supporting the measure.

Democrats hold a 38-29 majority in the Minnesota Senate.

The amendment would have subjected abortion clinics to biannual inspections that would occur without any prior notice, along with licensing fees exceeding $10,000 for clinics that provide ten or more abortions per month.

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The language of the amendment is similar to Minnesota’s HF 606, sponsored by Rep. Debra Kiel (R-Crookston), which has been passed by committee and awaits further action by the full house.

Opponents of the legislation like Sen. Tony Lourey (D-Kerrick) argued that the new regulations would wrongly single out abortion clinics, while supporters like Sen. Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake) said that abortion clinics should be held to a higher standard, reported the Associated Press.

Several anti-choice bills have been filed this year in the Minnesota legislature, many of which are targeted regulations of abortion providers (TRAP) bills that single out abortion clinics with burdensome regulations.

Only one anti-choice bill, HF 606, has gained any traction in the house in 2015, despite a 72-62 GOP majority.

News Abortion

Toledo Clinic to Close Due to Ohio TRAP Law (Updated)

Nina Liss-Schultz

The last abortion clinic in Toledo, Ohio, will be forced to close because, it was told by the state health department, its transfer agreement with the University of Michigan Health System does not fit the criteria of state law, which requires the transfer hospital to be "local."

UPDATE, August 7, 5:08 p.m.: Capital Care Network, the only remaining abortion clinic in Toledo, Ohio, has appealed the state Department of Health’s decision to revoke its license, according to news reports Thursday.

The last abortion clinic in Toledo, Ohio, will be forced to close in just a few weeks, after the state Department of Health revoked its license.

In an adjudication order dated Wednesday and sent to the Capital Care Network (CCN), Toledo’s only abortion provider and one of the only providers in northwest Ohio, the state Department of Health said that it was “revoking and refusing to renew” CCN’s health-care facility license because it failed to comply with state law requiring abortion providers have transfer agreements with local hospitals.

The clinic had such an agreement with the University of Michigan Health System (UMHS), about 50 miles away in Ann Arbor, but the order said the agreement with UMHS did not fit the criteria of state law, which requires the transfer hospital to be “local.”

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Specifically, the law requires that abortion providers in the Buckeye State have a transfer agreement with a “local” hospital that is also not a public institution, and that the provider and hospital must have a specific plan for the “safe and immediate transfer of patients” to the hospital in cases of medical complication or emergency.

The clinic’s attorney, Jennifer Branch, told the Toledo Blade that CCN will appeal the department’s decision and ask the court to keep the clinic open during the appeal process. The clinic will otherwise have to close by August 12. Meanwhile, CCN will once again try to find an Ohio-based hospital that will come into a transfer agreement.

Transfer agreements like the one in Ohio have been enacted throughout the country, despite the fact that they are not based on medical evidence of ensuring patient safety. As Rewire has reported before, abortion care in the United States is overwhelmingly safe. According to the Guttmacher Institute, first-trimester abortions are “one of the safest medical procedures,” with less than 0.05 percent of complications that need hospital care. Recently, the state legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee acknowledged at a convention that abortion is safer than pregnancy.

The Ohio TRAP (targeted regulations of abortion provider) law passed last June as part of a two-year budget. Along with enacting the transfer agreement requirement, Ohio lawmakers also defunded Planned Parenthood clinics, moved public funding for family planning to anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers, and created a mandate requiring doctors to give their patients seeking abortion information about the “fetal heartbeat.”

Prior to the University of Michigan contract, CCN had another transfer agreement with the University of Toledo Medical Center. However, the university decided not to renew its agreement last July, forcing CCN to look elsewhere in order to satisfy the law. According to the Toledo Blade, CCN struggled for months to find a hospital.

Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, told the paper that the decision will force women in northwest Ohio to cross state lines for safe abortion access. “If you don’t have a car, and you are trying to rely on a bus the logistics are impossible and frankly these medically unnecessary regulations were written because they knew that certain women would be unable to jump through all the hoops that the state would put in front of them,” she told the paper.