In a conference room at the RSA Tower in Montgomery, Alabama, Department of Public Health state officials heard testimony Thursday about new regulations passed by the state legislature that would affect reproductive health-care clinics. According to reporting by the Associated Press, anti-choice activists testified that even stricter regulations need to be implemented on clinics that provide reproductive health care.
The hearing was announced on the Department of Health’s website, but does not appear to have been announced on any of
its social media accounts; it was reportedly sparsely attended by the public.
Alabama law defines an abortion clinic as one that provides at least 30 abortions during any two months in a year. Anti-choice activists want that reduced to ten abortions in any month or 100 abortions over the course of a year. Jean Paxson, an anti-choice activist who spoke at the hearing, told the AP that she wants to see the health department “reduce it to one.”
Gloria Gray, director of West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa, testified at the hearing and told Rewire that one of her concerns about the regulations is the state releasing statistics that show the number of abortions performed at clinics. She says that this information has made her clinic a target for anti-choice protesters.
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“These new regulations serve no purpose other than to make an individual clinic a target,” said Gray. “It has made my clinic a target. There have been posts on social media of the number of procedures that occur here, and the number of protesters has increased.” Gray said that while she and her staff
have not received any direct threats, the tactics of the protests has grown more aggressive as the number of protesters has increased.
Gray also said her clinic is having to adapt to the new regulations that govern the architecture of reproductive health-care clinics. The total costs of the renovations are not yet known, but the clinic is having to spend $10,000 to add a new exit door in the back of the building. “These new regulations serve no purpose, and they’re not for safety,” said Gray. “They are clearly to shut clinics down.”
The restrictions being imposed on reproductive health-care clinics in Alabama would limit access to reproductive health care. Gray said that this is going to have a negative effect on women’s health. “It’s going to make it more difficult to obtain these services because of cost and because of 24-hour waiting requirements,” said Gray. “Lots of times a patient doesn’t have means of transportation.”
Gray added that the regulations are “not going to stop women from having abortions. You can make something illegal, but it’s not going to stop it from happening. It’s just going to make it no longer safe.”