By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Wednesday the Senate Health Committee passed House Bill 57, The Women’s Health and Safety Act. HB 57 would increase the regulatory standard to which abortion clinics are held to that of other outpatient surgical centers. The Senate Health Committee passed HB 57 on a 7 – 3 vote. The bill has already passed in the Alabama House of Representatives.
The Vice President of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood Southeast Nikema Williams said in a written statement, “This legislation will make it harder to access health care, which will put women’s health in danger.”
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) supports the legislation and on Tuesday told Pro-Life activists at the 2013 Pro-Life Legislative Day that he would sign the Women’s Health and Safety Act if the legislature would send him the bill and urged them to contact their State Senators and tell them to pass the legislation.
HB 57 was sponsored in the House by Alabama State Representative Mary Sue McClurkin (R) from Indian Springs. Rep. McClurkin said in a written statement, “Though I am a committed opponent of legalized abortion, the U.S. Supreme Court has sadly allowed it to remain the law of the land, so we must do everything possible to ensure the procedure is performed in a safe and healthy environment that is also prepared for emergencies that may arise. As I have noted several times before, Alabama has more health regulations in place to protect your cat or dog at a vet clinic than it does for a woman receiving an abortion, and that shameful disparity will change with passage of this bill.”
Vice-President Williams said, “Abortion already is one of the safest medical procedures for women. The people behind this legislation really want to make all abortion illegal and inaccessible in Alabama.” “We face serious health disparities in Alabama – with too many women lacking access to health care. Our legislators should focus on improving women’s access to affordable, quality health care, instead of making it harder for them to get the care they need.”
Rep. McClurkin said, “If an abortion clinic is truly dedicated to providing adequate care, ensuring dependable safeguards, and putting patients’ needs before profits, it will embrace this legislation rather than oppose it. With passage of this bill, dangerous, unregulated, fly-by-night abortion clinics will discontinue operations in Alabama, and women will begin receiving the standard of care that their health requires and their mental state during a desperate time deserves.”
Planned Parenthood Southeast said that the legislation to would have medically unnecessary requirements that will be difficult for women’s health centers to meet. HB 57 includes a requirement that abortion doctors have admitting privileges at a local hospital.
Dr. Randy Brinson with the Christian Coalition said that currently Alabama doctors have to deal with abortion complications while the abortion doctor is flying to his home state on his private plane.
Planned Parenthood said that such laws are part of a growing trend and a national strategy to regulate abortion providers out of existence. They wanted that similar to a law passed in Mississippi, HB 57 will likely trigger costly legal challenges and lengthy litigation if passed.
Williams said. “Alabamians are counting on the Senate to stop this attack on women’s health by rejecting this bill.” Now that HB 57 has passed out of Committee in the Senate it still has to be taken up by the full Alabama Senate.
The Women’s Health and Safety Act is part of the Alabama House Republican Caucus’s “We Dare Defend Our Rights Agenda” that House Republicans agreed to make a priority in the 2013 legislative session.