Alabama About to Put Its Abortion Clinics in Jeopardy

New restrictions go to governor today

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 4, 2013 2:53 AM CDT | Updated Apr 4, 2013 5:03 AM CDT

(Newser) – Alabama's state legislature has passed a bill placing tough new restrictions on abortion providers, and critics say it's intended to shut down the five clinics in the state, the New York Times reports. The bill is headed for Gov. Robert Bentley's desk today, and he's said he'll sign it. Its measures include a rule that doctors who provide abortions must have local hospital admitting privileges. Multiple clinics in the state use doctors based outside Alabama, and state politics would make it tough for them to get admitting privileges, says a Planned Parenthood rep, who tells the AP that only one clinic in the state employs a doctor who has these privileges.

The bill also sets building standards for clinics that, for some, could require millions of dollars in improvements—improvements the clinics call unnecessary, the Times notes. While new laws in states like Arkansas banning early abortions "may sound more drastic," says an expert who supports abortion rights, they probably won't be upheld in court. But "more reasonable-sounding things like hallway width, or requiring a doctor to have local admitting privileges," could get court approval and ultimately "be much more devastating" to abortion access. Supporters of the tougher rules, however, say they aim "to ensure that if clinics are going to operate, they operate to high standards that protect women’s health and safety." Washington state, meanwhile, is looking to mandate insurance coverage for abortion.

In this Tuesday, March 19, 2013 file photo, members of the House debate at the Alabama Statehouse in Montgomery, Ala.   (AP Photo/Dave Martin, File)
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