Bill signed allowing surprise inspections of Arizona abortion clinics
By David Schwartz
PHOENIX (Reuters) - Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Tuesday signed into a law a bill allowing state health authorities to conduct surprise inspections of abortion clinics without first obtaining a warrant, handing another victory to abortion foes.
The Republican-backed bill, which gained final legislative approval from the state Senate last week, removes a provision from state law requiring a judge to approve any spot inspections conducted at the nine clinics in Arizona licensed to perform abortions.
No other medical facilities in the state require such a warrant for unannounced inspections.
"This legislation will ensure that the Arizona Department of Health Services has the authority to appropriately protect the health and safety of all patients," gubernatorial spokesman Andrew Wilder said in announcing that Brewer, a Republican, had signed the measure.
The governor herself made no comment.
Supporters of the bill argued that abortion clinics should be subject to the same level of oversight as other medical facilities and that requiring court-approved warrants for unannounced inspections could delay such scrutiny.
Critics of the measure called it an unnecessary government intrusion that had little to do with public safety.
Instead, they cast the measure as open to abuse by officials with an anti-abortion agenda who might use increased latitude for inspections to interfere with clinic operations, effectively restraining legal access to abortion in the state. Continued...