Alabama Bill Would Keep Abortion Clinics Far Away From Public Schools
Kate Scanlon /
The Alabama House of Representatives has passed legislation that would prevent new abortion facilities from opening near schools.
If signed into law, House Bill 527 would prohibit the Alabama Department of Public Health from renewing or granting a license to an abortion facility within 2,000 feet of a public school.
The legislation was modeled after laws that prevent convicted sex offenders from residing within 2,000 feet of a school.
If passed, the legislation would force the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives in Huntsville to close or relocate when its current license expires, due to its proximity to Edward White Middle School.
The House approved the legislation in a 79-15 vote.
State Rep. Ed Henry, R-Hartselle, told AL.com that he doesn’t want children to see protestors on both sides of the issue on their way to or from school.
“It is a volatile atmosphere that our children shouldn’t be exposed to,” Henry said.
Rev. James Henderson, a co-pastor at Ex Nihilo Church and the former executive director of the Christian Coalition of Alabama, was part of the effort to bring the bill to the legislature.
Henderson told The Daily Signal that the bill is “appropriate for more reasons than one.”
“It’s not good to have an abortion facility across the street from a public school,” he said.
He said that the bill is in the interest of the safety of young women.
Henderson, who is also a member of the Alabama Republican Party’s executive committee, expressed optimism that the bill will be approved by the state’s Senate and signed into law by the governor.
Henderson said he is new to politics and that it was “interesting to see what happened” when the bill was debated in the legislature.
“The left is all stirred up on their blogs,” he said.
He said that he views the work of the pro-life movement as a “ministry,” and that he hopes that the one remaining abortion facility in Huntsville will close.
“Women who have had abortions who testified, you can see the pain in their eyes,” he said, adding that he’s “more determined to pray for them than ever.”
Opponents of the bill object to restrictions on abortion facilities.
Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates said in a statement that they stand “firmly against HB 527 and the targeted attack on women’s health care in Alabama.”
“By likening a health care facility to a sex offender in the wording of the bill it is clear that the intent is not to make women safer, but to deny access [to abortion],” they said.
They added that the bill would “create an ongoing legal battle by violating the constitutional rights of Alabama citizens.”