Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signs law raising requirements for abortion clinics

Tuesday, April 9, 2013 - 10:00pm

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signed a law Tuesday that drastically raises the safety requirements for abortion clinics to operate -- a measure that he says "has been endorsed by pro-life groups across America."

"As a physician, and as a governor, I am proud to sign this legislation," Bentley, a Republican, said in a statement. "This bill provides appropriate standards of care."

The measure passed by overwhelming majorities in both houses of the state legislature. Mike Hubbard, speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives, has said, "With the passage of this legislation, we are doing everything we can to ensure the procedure is performed in a safe and healthy environment."

Once signed, Alabama's new law would require abortion clinics to meet the standards of an "ambulatory surgical center," Staci Fox, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood, has said.

This means the state's five abortion clinics would have to remodel to increase the sizes of rooms and doorways.

"It puts an undue burden on existing facilities. All of this makes it harder to access health care," Fox said.

The new law also requires doctors at the clinics to ask pregnant minors seeking an abortion under age 16 about who's the father, according to a summary of the legislation provided by Hubbard's office.

The pregnant minor will be able to refuse to give the father's name and age.

If the girl provides the name and the father is two or more years older than the girl, the facility will have to report the pregnant girl and father to police, the legislation says. The legislation is designed to prevent abuse.

Doctors who provide abortions must have admitting privileges at local hospitals, the governor's office said.

The law is the centerpiece of the "We Dare Defend Our Right to Life" section of the House Republican caucus' 2013 legislative agenda.

The law's House sponsor, Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin, a Republican from Indian Springs Village, Alabama, said abortion clinics truly dedicated to care "will embrace this legislation rather than oppose it.

"For far too long, Alabama has had more health regulations in place to protect your cat or dog at a vet clinic than it does for a woman receiving an abortion; this law will correct that shameful disparity," McClurkin said in a statement.

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