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A bill requiring abortion clinics to be inspected twice a year passed the Utah Senate late Wednesday.

HB171 would require Utah's three abortion clinics — which are already licensed by the state — to be inspected twice a year, one of them a surprise visit. The cost of the inspections would be covered by the clinics' licensing fees.

It passed in a party-line vote, 22-6, with Democrats suggesting it was a solution in search of a problem.

"I don't see this debate so much as a debate about abortion, but a discussion about the appropriateness of regulation of clinics providing health care services. I'm not convinced that the current level of regulation is inadequate," said Ben McAdams. The Salt Lake City Democrat moved to shelve the bill for further study, but the motion failed.

The bill's Senate sponsor, Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, offered no specific examples of unsafe or unsanitary conditions, saying only, "We pass many bills that are pre-emptive."

The Utah Department of Health inspects the Utah Women's Clinic, the only one in the state that performs second-trimester abortions.

Inspections dating back to 2001 show a handful of violations for administrative shortcomings.

"We're not impinging on a woman's right of choice. We're talking about the quality of health care services," said Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, noting that bars are currently inspected more frequently than abortion clinics.

The bill heads now to the governor for his signature.