By Dave Andrusko
When last we discussed the status of abortion in the state of Alabama, Attorney General Luther Strange had just said his office would appeal the decision by U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson that overturned an Alabama law requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. This kind of admitting privileges law has been both upheld and struck by various appeals court panels.
In Alabama it was part of the Women’s health and Safety Act (HB 57). Another part of the 2013 law, as NRL News Today reported previously, is that abortion clinics meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs).
Two abortion clinics—one in Birmingham and one in Huntsville—which had closed were back in business this week, according to Brian Hale, an attorney for the state Department of Public Health which licenses abortion clinics.
The Birmingham clinic– The Planned Parenthood Southeast clinic—ceased operation in January “after firing two staff members for selling an abortion medication to a person in the clinic’s parking lot,” according to the Associated Press’ Philip Rawls. When CEO Staci Fox testified in the lawsuit against the admitting privileges provision, she said “the clinic hopes to get approval from the state health department to reopen by next month [July].”
It took an additional three months, but earlier this week, Rawls reported, the abortion clinic was back in business. “The clinic replaced its staff and made other changes, according to public records at the health department.”
Likewise for the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives in Huntsville. It moved after its old facility could not meet the ASC standards. Owner Dalton Johnson surrendered the license in late June.
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So where did it reopen at? “Less than 1,000 feet from two public schools: Ed White Middle and Highlands Elementary,” according to reporter Steve Doyle of the Huntsville Times.
Doyle explained that City councilman Will Culver (who said he was “neutral” on abortion) conducted a town hall meeting about the facility’s location.
“I don’t want this meeting to be about whether abortion is legal, ethical or moral,” Culver said. “We just want to have a discussion about the fact that the clinic is going to be in close proximity to a couple of schools. I’ve heard from a lot of people in the community who are saddened with it being that close to two schools. To me, that’s just not a good mixture.”
According to Rawls of AP,
“Alabama clinics reported performing 8,469 abortions in 2013, and 1,046 of those involved females from out of state, according to reports the clinics filed with the health department. The Tuscaloosa clinic, which is closest to Mississippi, is the state’s busiest, with 3,600 pregnancies terminated last year.”