An Alabama House committee has passed a bill to keep abortion clinics at least 2,000 feet away from public schools.
The House Health Committee voted Wednesday in favor of HB 301 sponsored by Rep. Ed Henry, a Decatur Republican. The bill directs the Alabama Department of Public Health not to reissue licenses for any clinic within 2,000 feet of a school.
The bill passed the state Senate in March by a vote of 27-6, and will now move to the full House for a vote.
“If we currently protect a physical buffer between students and liquor stores, it is common sense that we would protect them from attending school near an abortion clinic,” Sen. Paul Sanford of Huntsville said upon the Senate’s passage of the bill. “This will not mandate any abortion clinic to shut down, but I have no problem if it forces a clinic or two to move away from our kids.”
If signed into law, the bill would force two abortion clinics in the state to close, including one in Huntsville stationed across the street from Edward H. White Middle School, which was forced to move to its current location near a public school after the state mandated new facility requirements in 2013.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Alabama has vowed to challenge the restrictions in court if it clears the House, which would be the fourth lawsuit in the last three years challenging abortion restrictions in Alabama.
“We all agree that protecting our children is a top priority. But this law isn’t about protecting Alabama’s children,” stated Susan Watson, Executive Director of the ACLU of Alabama in March when the bill passed the state Senate. “It’s about making a sure a woman who has decided to have an abortion can’t get one.”
“And make no mistake about it: If the legislature passes this bill, the ACLU will challenge this law in court,” Watson stated.
If the bill is signed into law, Alabama will become one of the first states in the nation to have a school proximity provision for abortion clinics.