Ala. Abortion Clinic Regulations Debated at Public Hearing

October 28, 2013 — Alabama abortion-rights opponents last week urged state health officials to go further than an existing proposal to regulate abortion clinics, the AP/Huffington Post reports.

Advocates on both sides of the issue testified on Thursday at a public hearing at the state Department of Public Health (Reeves, AP/Huffington Post, 10/24).

Under current rules, a medical office is considered an abortion clinic if it performs at least 30 abortions during any two months of the year and represents itself as an abortion provider. The proposed rule would change the minimum number of abortions to 10 in any single month and at least 100 annually. The rule would not be subject to Legislature approval (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/18).

Speaking at the hearing, Gloria Gray, who operates an abortion clinic in Tuscaloosa, said physician offices and clinics that specialize in abortion should follow the same rules. However, she raised concerns about the state releasing statistics that show her clinic -- the only one in the state that is open five days per week -- performs the most abortions in Alabama. "It has made us a target," Gray said.

Abortion-rights opponent Jeanne Paxson said that while the proposal would be an improvement from the status quo, it should be amended so that any facility that performs an abortion must meet the requirements.

The State Committee on Public Health will consider the proposal at a November hearing, where members could approve or amend the proposal, according to DPH attorney Brian Hale (AP/Huffington Post, 10/24).