Ala. House Panel Approves Restrictions on Abortion Clinics, Coverage

May 4, 2012 — The Alabama House Health Committee on Wednesday approved two bills that would increase regulation of abortion clinics and restrict insurance coverage of abortion, Alabama Live reports (Chandler, Alabama Live, 5/2).

Both bills were thought to be dead for the year after committee Chair Jim McClendon (R) said the panel would not meet again. However, McClendon said he received several requests to consider the bills and agreed to hold a meeting (AP/NECN, 5/2).

One bill would require abortion clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory health centers. It also would mandate that physicians who provide abortion care have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and take part in before and after care of the patient. In some cases, clinics would have to report the names of minors who seek abortion care and the person suspected to be the father.

Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin (R), who sponsored the bill, claimed that a recently closed abortion clinic had "raunchy" conditions and that more oversight was needed.

Opponents of the bill said it was an attempt to close clinics by enacting excessive regulations. Kim Adams of the National Organization for Women said, "We believe the ultimate aim of this bill is to make abortion services so difficult that the number of health care facilities offering them and the women able to afford them will plummet."

The second bill would prohibit health plans in the state's health insurance exchange from covering abortion care in most circumstances (Alabama Live, 5/2).