May 26, 2015 — About 100 abortion-rights advocates rallied in Montgomery, Ala., last week to speak out against three antiabortion-rights bills pending in the state Legislature, AP/Sacramento Bee reports.
The rally was organized by Planned Parenthood Southeast (AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/20).
One of the bills (HB 527) filed by state Rep. Ed Henry (R), would prohibit the state Department of Public Health from issuing or renewing health center licenses to abortion or reproductive health clinics located within 2,000 feet of a public school's campus or property.
Another bill (HB 405) would require physicians to check for a fetal heartbeat before performing an abortion and make it illegal to perform an abortion if a heartbeat can be detected. Currently, the state permits abortion until 20 weeks of pregnancy. However, the bill could prohibit abortion as early as six weeks' gestation. The state House passed a similar ban last year, but it did not advance in the state Senate.
The third bill (HB 491) would allow most health care providers to refuse to perform medical services to which they have personal objections.
All three measures currently are being considered by the full state House (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/8).
PPS Medical Director Didi Saint-Louis said, "We want [lawmakers] to step out of the exam room." She added, "Let the women of the great state of Alabama make the decisions for themselves as to how they are going to take care of themselves" (AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/20).
Meanwhile, Nikema Williams, vice president of public policy at PPS, said the heartbeat ban could prohibit abortion at a point when "most women don't" know they are pregnant.
Williams also condemned the abortion clinic licensing restrictions (Walsh, ABC 33/40, 5/20). She noted that it could close all but one of the five clinics in the state, as the definition of schools could apply to universities (AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/20).