Alabama House lawmakers sent a bill to Gov. Robert Bentley’s desk on Wednesday that would keep abortion clinics from operating near public schools.
The bill passed the state House in a strong 73-18 vote despite Democrats’ attempts to filibuster a vote, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. The state Senate passed the bill in March, LifeNews reported.
The legislation would ban abortion facilities from building within 2,000 feet of public elementary or middle schools and prohibit the state health department from issuing or renewing a health center license to current abortion clinics within the same distance of the schools. If passed, the legislation could close the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives Services (AWCRA) in Huntsville or at least force it to move.
The abortion clinic opened across the street from a middle school in Huntsville several years ago. According to the Times Daily, the facility administrator, Dalton Johnson, said they moved to that location after being forced out of a building in downtown Huntsville due to the 2013 Women’s Health and Safety Act. The legislation was initiated after there were multiple botched abortions in Alabama.
State Sen. Paul Sanford, who sponsored the bill, previously said the measure will protect young children from the “chaos” that sometimes occurs around abortion facilities between protesters and abortion clinic patients and staff.
“My hope is that no more in the state would ever open that close to small children,” Sanford said when the state Senate passed the bill in March.
Already, the abortion clinic and the ACLU are threatening to sue the state if Gov. Bentley signs the legislation. ACLU Alabama Executive Director Susan Watson previously called the bill an attack on “the health and well-being of Alabama women.” She said it would be ACLU’s fourth lawsuit against the state in three years, AL.com reports.
The measure also faced opposition Thursday from members of the House Black Caucus. After the bill passed, the members gathered and sang “We Shall Overcome” in the well of the House chamber, according to the Advertiser.
State House Minority Leader Craig Ford attacked the effort, saying legislators want to ban abortions but “don’t want to fund Medicaid to take care of the babies once they’re born,” according to the Associated Press.
Pro-life lawmakers’ concerns are not unfounded. The abortion industry has a reputation of targeting young, vulnerable women and girls.
This spring, the abortion business Planned Parenthood is constructing an abortion mega-clinic right near an elementary and middle school in Washington, D.C. In December, LifeNews reported that families at the sought-after elementary school in Washington, D.C. are increasingly concerned about the construction of the new abortion clinic next to their school.