HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — The Alabama Women’s Center, one of only three clinics in the state offering abortion services, turned away patients minutes after the Roe decision came down from the Supreme Court on Friday.
Alabama Reproductive Rights Clinic Escorts Co-coordinator Kathy Zentner is a long-time volunteer at the Alabama Women’s Center. She said the clinic had to turn away a waiting room of patients Friday morning after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade case.
“Activities stopped in the clinic,” Zentner said. “They have been on the phone with attorneys to figure out what can be done for the day, but basically they’re following the law here. At the time Roe was suspended, abortions stopped.”
Until Friday, the Alabama Women’s Center offered surgical and non-surgical abortions to patients up to 20 weeks pregnant. The clinic also offered contraceptive counseling, STD testing, and other preventative health services.
In 2019, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed a law banning almost all abortions, except in the case of pregnancies that endanger the mother’s life. However, the ban does not offer exemptions for rape or incest.
With the overturning of a 2019 injunction barring the law on the ground of Roe, the Human Life Protection Act is now in effect, impacting the Alabama Women’s Center and effectively stopping all abortions in the state.
“[The Alabama Women’s Center] cannot exist as an abortion clinic,” Zentner said. “The law in Alabama says that a doctor that performs an abortion in this state is subject to 99 years in prison, so there is no chance that a doctor is going to risk his or her license to make that happen.”
On Friday, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said abortion clinics are violating state law and have to cease operations immediately.
Zentner and other volunteers sit outside of the Alabama Women’s Center to escort patients inside the clinic on a daily basis.
“Our job for the past ten years has been to get the patients past the taunts of the protestors, bring them a little bit of privacy, a little bit of noise distraction, and bring them inside the clinic so they know someone supports their right to make a choice for themselves,” Zentner said. “Unfortunately, the United States Supreme Court doesn’t believe that, and the Alabama Legislature didn’t believe that.”
Zentner said the nearest clinics to Alabama offering abortion services are located in Illinois.