Ala. Lawmakers Tighten Rules for Abortion Clinics

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  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama lawmakers late Tuesday gave final passage to a measure placing stricter regulations on clinics that provide abortions.

    The state House voted 68-21 to give final passage to the Women’s Health and Safety Act. The vote came hours after the state Senate voted 20-10 to approve the bill after amending the measure to require clinics to tell patients what medications they had received.

    The votes in the GOP-led legislature, mostly along partly lines, send the measure to Republican Gov. Robert Bentley, who backs the legislation.

    Proponents say the regulations will protect women. Opponents say they will make it harder for women to exercise their right to get an abortion.

    The bill requires abortion clinics to use doctors who have approval to admit patients to hospitals in the same city. Some clinics now use doctors from other cities that don’t have local hospital privileges. A similar law in Mississippi is threatening to close that state’s only abortion clinic, which is challenging the law in court.

    The bill also sets stricter building requirements, including wider halls and doors and better fire suppression systems. The state Department of Public Health, which regulates Alabama’s five abortion clinics, reports that most will not meet the stricter standards.

    The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin, said the bill “is trying to make it safer to have abortion” and is not designed to stop the medical procedures in the state.

    Sen. Harri Anne Smith, I-Slocomb, said the bill is not about safety, but about setting requirements that doctors can’t meet because hospitals won’t give them admitting privileges. “You are not telling your constituents the real truth — that you are trying to close these clinics so there will be no abortions in Alabama,” she said.

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