News Abortion

In Alabama, Government Interference is Anathema, Except When it Comes to Women’s Rights

Robin Marty

While the state faces a heath care crisis, its legislators are focused on sprinklers.

Conservative politicians like Rand Paul and Michele Bachmann were up at arms over Big Government intrusion when it came to issues like mandating light bulbs and toilets. Think they would have a problem with designating a necessary number of sprinklers in a building?

Not a chance. At least, not when it’s in a clinic that provides reproductive services.

The Alabama state legislature is considering a series of abortion regulations, including targeted regulations of abortion providers (TRAP), which would require new certification and privileges for those who perform abortions, but also new building standards for the clinics themselves. One of those new requirements? Sprinklers.

Via Mike Cason at

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[U]nder McClurkin’s bill, House Bill 57, abortion centers would be required to meet higher fire safety codes, the same as those required of ambulatory surgical centers. Clinics would have to submit to the Department of Public Health architectural drawings and sprinkler system plans to meet those standards within 180 days of the law taking effect. Within one year of the law taking effect, abortion centers would have to be certified as meeting those standards or would have their licenses revoked.

“Abortions are, sadly, legal in this country,” McClurkin said in a news release. “Given this unfortunate truth, common sense should tell us that an abortion clinic should be held to the same high standards as any medical office that practices invasive procedures.”

Ironically, the TRAP bill, as well as the other restrictions on abortion and birth control coverage and access including unnecessary admitting privileges, are all a part of the Republican 2013 legislative agenda they have dubbed “We Dare to Defend Our Rights.” The Alabama GOP platform suggests many ways through which to stop interference from “big government,” including rejecting public schools and gun regulation. Government has no place in making personal life decisions for the residents of the state.

Unless it comes to deciding when you should get pregnant or give birth.

Alabama, like many of the states in the south, has struggled with high maternal and infant mortality rates as well as high unintended pregnancy rates. Women’s and minority health indicators in the state are especially troubling.  According to Guttmacher Institute, 55 percent of all pregnancies are unintended in the state, and 66 percent of the resulting birth from unintended pregnancies are paid for with public funds. The National Women’s Law Center gave the state an F in 2010, ranking it the 46th worst state in the nation for women’s health care access.

“Alabama is suffering when it comes to health outcomes, especially when it comes to minorities and women of color,” Nikema Williams, Vice President of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood Southeast, told Rewire. “For the legislature to be focused on this when Planned Parenthood is one of the organizations focused on preventative services, for them to be trying to close our doors? What they really should be doing is trying to help us with the preventative services that we provide rather than try to close the doors of one of the few organizations trying to help women of the state.”

Williams said that the clinic regulations and privileges bill is expected to be heard early next week.  Not only is the GOP ready to push abortion restrictions as “defending our rights,” they intend to fast track it as well.

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