Alabama governor signs legislation limiting abortion clinics, Huntsville’s Alabama Women’s Center affected


A protester holds a sign on display to traffic leaving the Academy for Academics and Arts, which is just across from the Alabama Women’s Center on Sparkman Drive. (Megan Brantley/WHNT News 19)

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has signed legislation that could shutter two of the state’s largest abortion providers, our news partners at reported.

The legislature passed a bill that denies licenses to clinics within 2,000 feet of K-8 public schools, in addition to legislation banning a commonly used second trimester abortion procedure.

Supporters of the measure said the clinic, and the protests it attracts, pose a public safety risk to young students. Parents have also approached city council looking for an ordinance to ban the protesting during drop-off and pick-up times.

“We believe that the city leadership defaulted on their responsibilities and we had no choice, but to go to the state, where we found people who are willing to deal with this problem,” said James Henderson, a pro-life supporter. “We go where the baby-killing is and we’re never out to cause any problem at any school.”

Republican Sen. Paul Sanford sponsored SB205, saying he wanted to force an abortion clinic to move away from a school in Huntsville. The Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives is located on Sparkman Drive, across the street from the Academy for Academics and Arts, a public magnet school in the city.

One Huntsville parent we talked to said protesters moved to the school’s side of the street to protest, frightening children.

“These people are on either side, frightening my children, using signs that are offensive and causing a huge traffic hazard,” said parent Gina Haynsworth. “As I’m trying to exit and enter my school.”

Though the school building existed prior to the Alabama Women’s Center moving to its current location, the school, formerly Ed White Middle School, was closed at the time. The building was later renovated and the Academy for Academics and Arts moved into the space.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Alabama Women’s Center Clinic Administrator Dalton Johnson have vowed to file suit against the legislation.

“We have an $85 million Medicaid deficit, but they don’t want to solve that problem,” said Johnson, “but they do want to reduce the access in Alabama to women for their reproductive rights.”

Johnson said even with this bill, though, not much will change, saying, “The protestors will still be out here.”

The license for the Alabama Women’s Center expires at the end of the year.

A clinic in Tuscaloosa is also impacted by this legislation.