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Abortion-Rights Opponents Push Bill To Close Sole North Ala. Clinic

Abortion-Rights Opponents Push Bill To Close Sole North Ala. Clinic

November 25, 2014 — A group of abortion-rights opponents in Huntsville, Ala., aims to close North Alabama's only abortion clinic through legislative efforts after a judge dismissed the group's lawsuit against the clinic, the Huntsville Times reports (Lawson, Huntsville Times, 11/23).

Background

The Huntsville Women's Clinic in October reopened in a new location after closing in June because its old location did not comply with a state law (HB 57) that requires abortion clinics to meet the same building standards as ambulatory surgical centers (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/24).

The Christian Coalition of Alabama filed suit against the clinic, arguing that it should not be allowed to open unless it applies to be zoned as a surgical center. According to the Times, the clinic was granted a zoning variance previously given to other medical clinics in that space.

Madison County Circuit Judge Alan Mann last week denied CCA's request for a temporary injunction and dismissed the case. He said the plaintiffs did not have standing to bring the lawsuit because none of them were affected by the clinic's location. Mann also found that the zoning board acted in its normal capacity when it zoned the clinic.

CCA Pushes School Zoning Bill

James Henderson, executive director of CCA, said it was unlikely that his organization would appeal the ruling. Instead, Henderson, who is also a member of the Alabama Republican Party's executive committee, said the group will ask local lawmakers to support a measure that would require a 2,000-foot minimum barrier between a school and an abortion clinic.

According to the Times, the clinic is located "almost directly across" from a school.

Henderson said David Byrne, chief legal adviser for Gov. Robert Bentley (R), has encouraged the school-barrier effort. In a letter provided to the Times, Byrne wrote that he told Henderson in June he would be "happy to assist" lawmakers "closely associated with" CCA to pre-file any legislation for 2015. However, Byrne in the letter also noted the Governor's Legal Office is prohibited from doing legal work for a private group, according to the Times (Huntsville Times, 11/23).