Huntsville abortion clinic re-opens at new location with new license

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- Pro choice advocates are calling it a major victory, North Alabama has a licensed abortion provider, again.

Nearly fourth months ago the Alabama Women's Center for Reproductive Alternatives  closed its downtown Huntsville clinic but they re-opened Monday at 4831 Sparkman Drive.

The Department of Public Health signed off on the and granted clinic owner Dalton Johnson a new license.

Clinic owner Dalton Johnson told our news partners at AL.com Wednesday  he is "extremely relieved" to be back in business after having to vacate the former clinic on Madison Street, which could not be retrofitted to comply with the Alabama Women's Health and Safety Act of 2013.

"A lot of obstacles were coming in front of us, but we just kept moving forward," Johnson told AL.com Wednesday.

Alabama Women's Center received its abortion provider license Friday.

Clinic supporters told WHNT News 19 Wednesday evening this is not the end to their fight to keep the doors open at the abortion clinic.

"We are very pleased by the doors opening back up for now, but we know this fight is far from over," Josie Poland Huntsville director of Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates says.

A group of anti-abortion activists led by Rev. James Henderson sued the City of Huntsville last month in an effort to prevent Alabama Women's Center from re-opening. The suit contends the Huntsville Board of Zoning Adjustment and Jim McGuffey, the city's manager of planning services, "erroneously determined" that the clinic could move into a residential district.

In 1998, the zoning board granted Huntsville Hospital a variance to open an outpatient medical clinic on the property now owned by Alabama Women's Center.

McGuffey ruled in May - and a majority of zoning board members later agreed - that the variance should also apply to an abortion clinic.

The lawsuit argues that the variance was exclusively for the Huntsville Hospital-managed medical clinic, which closed in 2013.

(Al.com/The Huntsville Times Contributed to this report)