June 19, 2015 — The American Civil Liberties Union has recognized three Alabama abortion clinic owners for working to keep their clinics open despite increasing abortion restrictions in the state, the Huntsville Times reports.
ACLU awarded its Roger N. Baldwin Medal of Liberty to June Ayers, who owns the Montgomery-based Reproductive Health Services; Gloria Grey, director of the Tuscaloosa-based West Alabama's Women's Center; and Dalton Johnson, who owns the Huntsville-based Alabama Women's Wellness Center. The group also gave the medal to Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation.
According to the Times, the medal is ACLU's highest honor.
Providers Fight To Remain Open Amid Harassment, Restrictions
Johnson said ACLU was "shocked" at the level of harassment directed toward his clinic, as well as the number of regulations targeting abortion. For example, according to the Times, Johnson's clinic is at the center of a legislative initiative (HB 527) to ban abortion clinics from operating within 2,000 feet of public schools in the state.
Johnson said, "I know in my heart that [providing abortion care is] right, and there's no point in abortion being legal in the United States if there's no one here to be able to perform and offer the services." He added, "We're here to stay, and we're going to continue the fight."
Susan Watson, executive director of ACLU Alabama, said, "These owners deserve to be recognized. They have risked everything, their reputation, their personal finances and their own physical safety to stand up for the women of Alabama and their fundamental right to access an abortion" (Little, Huntsville Times, 6/17).