JEFFERSON CITY - It only took seven minutes of debate to give the government more control over abortion clinics.
The House gave first-round approval to the legislation Wednesday, but the controversy is over an amendment to the bill.
The amendment, which passed 119 to 37, requires any facility that averages more than two abortions a year to get a license from the Department of Health.
"The provisions for licensing are very vague so it gives the Department of Health a lot of lee-way to give a license. Operating under a friendly administration is different then operating under an anti-choice administration because they (the administration) appoint the department head," said Crystal Williams of Planned Parenthood.
But proponents of the legislation say the licensing is necessary to protect women.
According to the amendment, the licensed facility is also under the inspection of the Health Department. The department can inspect for proper medical and non-medical standards to assure patient safety. Non-medical standards include plumbing, heating, and lighting.
"It is necessary that we license and inspect facilities on a regular basis to make sure abortions are safe," said Rep. Marilyn Edwards-Pavia, R-House Springs, and sponsor of the amendment. "We license and inspect for nursing homes to child care to veterinary clinics. We care for animals, it's time to start caring for women."
But opponents say that isn't the case.
"We're not fooled by their protests that they're thinking of (women)," said Mary Mosley of the MO Alliance for Choice. "They want to outlaw (abortion) and they can't outlaw it outright, so they're doing this."
But Deborah Buckner of MO Right to Life argues this bill is for proponents of abortion.
"It is a pro-life bill because it protects women and we can save the life of mothers, even though this particular bill may not save the life of a baby," she said. "Where ever a woman goes she will have some protection."
The bill also requires doctors to carry malpractice insurance to cover damages from $500,000 to $1 million and remain in the abortion facility until the patient leaves. Doctors also must have "clinical privileges" at a hospital in the same county where they will perform an abortion. Clinical privileges allow doctors to practice at a hospital.
The House will next vote to send the bill to the Senate.
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