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Updated Mar 12, 2014 - 7:26 pm

Arizona Senate panel OKs abortion clinic bill

PHOENIX — An Arizona Senate panel split along party lines has approved a bill allowing surprise inspections of abortion clinics.

House Bill 2284 has been described by supporters as a vital tool for health inspectors, who now must get a warrant to make unannounced searches of abortion providers.

Republican Rep. Debbie Lesko testified Wednesday that the bill she’s sponsoring only attempts to remove a warrant requirement that only applies to abortion providers.

But Planned Parenthood of Arizona President Bryan Howard says state officials can do any number of inquiries without the need for a warrant.

The Arizona Department of Health Services has sought only one warrant in the past four years. It happened just days before the bill was first heard in the House last month. The House approved it last week.

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