By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY–A bill requiring state regulation of abortion clinics passed the House Floor on Wednesday night.
Sponsored by Representative Mary Sue McClurkin (R-Indian Springs) the bill seeks to place strict restrictions on Planned Parenthood facilities.
The bill, according to Planned Parenthood Southeast, would impose burdensome regulations on health centers that provide abortion services, virtually eliminating abortion services in Alabama without any exceptions.
“HB 223 is 14 pages of politically motivated, big-government regulations that aren’t about patient safety, but rather about curtailing women’s access to reproductive health services – such as education, testing, and treatment for disease, birth control services, and other medically necessary treatment” said Nikema Williams, Vice President of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood Southeast . “Women and their families across Alabama will be less safe if HB223 passes, and we are asking Senators who support reproductive and family planning health services to vote no on HB 223,” said Williams.
The bill imposes restrictions predicted to cost thousands of dollars for health centers that also provide abortion services including those who provide non-surgical medication abortions.
Many of these same health centers provide critical preventive care as well, including birth control and education, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and testing and treatment for STDs.
“Planned Parenthood insists on the highest standards of care for our patients. Let’s be clear -HB223 is bad for women and their families. This is not about women’s health or safety, this is about eliminating abortion in all cases – no exceptions,” said Williams.
“HB223 would give the government the power to decide that a woman who gets pregnant – even in cases of rape, incest, sexual abuse, or when cases of fetal anomalies are discovered– has no other option but to continue that pregnancy to term. Voters don’t expect members of the State Legislature to consult their constituents before making medical decisions, and by the same token, decisions about a pregnancy should be left to a woman, her family, her doctor, and her personal religious beliefs.”
In a report prepared for the House Health Committee, A. Eric Johnston, president of the Alabama Pro-Life Coalition, summarized the bill’s provisions as foliows:
Requires abortion clinics to meet the same life safety code and building code standards as Ambulatory Surgery facilities.
Requires that a physician with admitting privileges to a local hospital must follow-up all adverse events reported by an abortion patient
Requires abortion clinics to have crash carts and licensed professionals trained in emergency life saving techniques during procedure days.
At least one physician must be on hand during procedures who has admitting privileges at a local hospital.
Prohibits off-label use (i.e. non-FDA approved use) of abortion inducing medications, such as RU-486
Requires that a physician must examine the patient in person before abortion inducing medications may be dispensed.
Adds a requirement to inquire about situations where statutory rape may have occurred and to report possible instances of statutory rape.
In order to have admitting privileges, doctors must have insurance and be approved by the hospital board.
Violations of the law would be classified as Class A misdemeanors. The bill now awaits a position on the calendar by the House Rules Committee.
The bill must still pass the Senate Floor before the session’s end.