Senate passes bill banning abortion clinics located near schools

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On Tuesday, the Alabama Senate passed a bill that would prohibit abortion clinics from being within 2,000 feet of a school, which will directly impact a clinic in Huntsville stationed across the street from Edward H. White Middle School.

The Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives moved to its current location in 2014 when it was forced to vacate its old location to comply with the Women’s Health and Safety Act, HB57, which required that clinics meet “all ambulatory health care occupancy standards.” The new facility is near Huntsville Hospital’s emergency room, which puts it in compliance with the law’s requirements.

SB205 from Sen. Paul Sanford (R-Huntsville) directs the Alabama Department of Public Health not to reissue licenses for any clinic within 2,000 feet of a school, effectively closing down the Huntsville clinic in its new location.

“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,” Sanford said in a statement release Tuesday. “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.”

With passage of the bill, Alabama will become one of the first states in the nation to have a school proximity provision for abortion clinics.

“Abortion clinics can attract unrest and protest – from people on both sides of the issue – and therefore can pose a public safety risk to young students,” Sanford added in the release. “Having an abortion clinic so close to an elementary school that children are required to walk on the sidewalk past the clinic is not in their best interest.”

An floor amendment changed the bill to where a clinic could stay open if a school is built near an already-operating facility.

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