After an abortion clinic opened up across the street from a middle school in Huntsville, Alabama, the state Senate has approved legislation to make the state one of the few to tackle the issue of abortion businesses located near public schools.
In Alabama, lawmakers have filed House Bill 527, which would ban abortion facilities from building within 2,000 feet of a public school or campus. If passed, the legislation could close down the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives Services (AWCRA) in Huntsville or at least force it to move.
The bill states that the state health department “may not issue or renew a health center license to an abortion clinic or reproductive health center” within the 2,000 feet of a school. Sponsor of the legislation, Ed Henry (R-Hartselle), said, “It’s a very simple bill.” However, he acknowledged that he didn’t know it could close AWCRA.
He said, “I did not know it would impact closing (a clinic). (This bill had) been asked for by several of the pro-life groups around the state. To me, the whole atmosphere around abortion clinics is very unsettling, with protesters on both sides, and to me not something we need to have the children of Alabama subjected to. We regulate how close liquor stores can be to schools and churches.”
Under the bill, the Department of Public Health could not license or renew a license for an abortion clinic within 2,000 feet of a K-8 public school.
Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, the sponsor, said there are two public schools within that distance of the abortion clinic in Huntsville, the Alabama Women’s Center on Sparkman Drive.
If the bill becomes law, Sanford said the center might be allowed to stay in place because it was already there.
But he said that would not defeat the purpose of the bill.
“My hope is that no more in the state would ever open that close to small children,” Sanford said.
Cheryl Ciamarra of Alabama Citizens for Life testified before the Alabama House Health Committee in a public hearing and she tells LifeNews more about what happened.
Alabama State Rep. Ed Henry (R) sponsor of Hb 527 today defended this legislation for over 3 hours of house floor filibuster by liberal Democrats for a final passage vote of 79 in favor and only 15 opposed. Rep. Henry explained the rationale for the bill is to prevent students who are mandated by law to attend school from having to be exposed on a daily basis to the volatile atmosphere by protestors of both sides. Rep. Laura Hall (D) offered an amendment which was added that excluded the bill from applying to “reproductive health centers who do not perform abortions.”
Alabama becomes one of the first states in the nation to prohibit the licensing of abortion providers within 2,000 feet of public schools. Rep. Ed Henry’s hometown of Huntsville Alabama has been the states center of controversy due to the performance of late term abortions there. The local abortuary moved from the downtown medical district where they had been previously located to a neighborhood community location across the street from a magnet middle/high school following passage of The Woman’s Health and Safety Act of fire and safety standards 2 years ago, which their old building did not meet.
Rev. James Henderson had been trying to gain a local community ordinance to provide the school children protection and discovered the Huntsville City Council had actually allowed a zoning variance for this building to be used as a medical clinic to a previous owner of the building. If local authorities will not protect the children then he has taken his case to the State to enforce community standards, likening an abortion clinic to other adult activities such as bars and strip clubs.
Sen. Paul Sanford the Senate sponsor of the bill does not think passage will close the Huntsville clinic but does support protecting children from this adult issue. 2,000 feet was chosen as it is over a city block and will allow vehicles traveling to and from the school to use alternative routes to avoid the daily exposure to demonstrations which occur regularly in Alabama at most abortion killing centers. Alabama currently has only 6 licensed free standing abortuaries and one identified unlicensed clinic in Selma.
Hopefully the Alabama Senate will address this common sense important legislation as soon as possible, as only 5 legislative days remain in this session. This is the only piece of legislation that looks like it has a chance to pass this year.
As LifeNews previously reported, a survey of AWCRA was conducted on January 8-9, 2013, where inspectors found unsanitary conditions, expired drugs, and an uncalibrated ultrasound machine. AWCRA failed to clean medical equipment – including procedure tables – between patients. Additionally, one abortionist failed to provide women with an opportunity to view an ultrasound of their babies prior to an abortion, which is required by law.