Alabama Considers Tightening Abortion Clinic Regulations

While stories of substandard, dangerous abortion practices abound throughout the country, the State of Alabama is taking steps in the right direction, tightening regulations and providing practical protections for women. The Department of Public Health has issued proposed regulations that would clarify the definition of “Abortion or Reproductive Health Center” to include a facility where 10 or more abortions are performed in a month, or 100 in a year. It would also include clinics that hold themselves out as abortion providers through advertising. A regulation such as this would help to permanently close the notorious New Woman, All Women clinic. Recall that abortionist Bruce Norman testified that he did more than 30 abortions in a two months period at the substandard facility located at 1001 17th Street South in Birmingham.

Life Legal Defense Foundation submitted comments urging the Alabama Department of Public Health to expand the definition of “Abortion or Reproductive Health Center” to cover any facility where abortions are performed. As the comments point out, an expectant mother, the person that the rules are intended to protect, needs protection no matter what the setting—whether at an Abortion or Reproductive Health Center or at a physician’s office. She ought to be assured of basic safety precautions whether or not her doctor performed nine other abortions that month or no other abortions that month.

Just this week, a report from Georgia Right to Life detailed the shocking lack of clinic regulations in that state and the atrocities that are committed against women as a result. Earlier this month, California building code regulations were repealed as applied to abortion clinics. “States need to take clinic regulations seriously,” commented Dana Cody, LLDF’s President and Executive Director. “We applaud Alabama for charting a course to protect women even as other states deliberately deprive women of such protections.”

Other positive features of the proposed Alabama regulations include the requirement that only a physician perform patient exams, prescribe abortifacients and perform abortions. Additionally, information must be given to women detailing post-operative care procedures, mandatory reporting of suspected sexual abuse has been strengthened, and building codes have been updated to require stricter fire-safety features.

The change that has proved most contentious is the requirement that physicians performing abortion have admitting privileges at a local hospital. While this requirement is the subject of a separate lawsuit, the regulations in the meantime will require abortionists to have a valid contract with a physician who has such admitting privileges who can provide post-operative care.

Read the proposed regulations here.