New rules to regulate abortion clinics cleared a state health panel Thursday, the last public step in the approval process before they are to take effect by the start of next year.
On a 12-1 vote, the Board of Health advanced temporary regulations requiring licensure of clinics where at least five first-trimester abortions are performed per month.
The vote came after a lengthy public hearing and discussion by the 15-member board, composed of nine Republican appointees and six Democratic ones. Two Democratic appointees were absent Thursday.
The guidelines would hold clinics to architectural standards that many facilities don't presently meet, and establish annual licensing protocols and procedures for unannounced inspections, among other directives.
Support for the stricter rules is shared by many abortion opponents, including some faith-based advocacy groups, who say it requires greater government oversight to protect patient safety.
Abortion rights supporters claim the regulations are designed to force clinics out of business by imposing standards that make compliance difficult.
They estimate that as many as 17 of the more than 20 clinics in the state could cease operations.
But remember, we need less government interference in small businesses instead of drowning them in job-killing regulations, right?