HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Alabama Women's Center clinic administrator Dalton Johnson confirms north Alabama's only clinic that performs abortions will soon voluntarily surrender its license to operate, due to new safety requirements recently signed into law.
Johnson told WHNT News 19 the new requirements make the current facility, located on Madison Street in downtown Huntsville, unsuitable for use.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed a bill in April that raised safety requirements for abortion clinics to operate. The bill, titled the Women’s Health and Safety Act, requires the state’s five clinics that provide abortions to meet the same facility standards as ambulatory care centers. Doctors must also have admitting privileges at local hospitals.
Johnson said Friday will be the last procedure day at the clinic. The license will be voluntarily surrendered on Monday.
"Once this clinic closes there will be no place between Tuscaloosa and Nashville to come for a procedure," said Kathy Zentner with Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates. "We see patients here from Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, and there are no options now."
"We're very confident that we're going to find another location to open that will be compliant with the laws in Alabama," said Jayme Calhoun, also with ARRA.
Brian Hale with the Alabama Department of Public Health said blueprints have been submitted for a possible relocated facility at that location. Hale said at last report, the plan had only been through an initial review and suggestions had been made to an architect, but they are still waiting for a response.
Hale added if the clinic does voluntarily surrender their license, they will have to reapply to open a new facility.
The proposed location for the new facility would be right across from Ed White Middle School, which closes its doors in August. The school building will then undergo a renovation and the Academy for Academics and Arts will move into the space for the 2015-16 school year.
The clinic currently offers multiple health services for women. "Women are losing their primary healthcare for OB/GYN care in this whole process just because we offer abortion services," said Calhoun. "That's just one of the many things that we do at that clinic and it's unfair to the women that are actually patients there regularly."