Higher women's clinic standards or end to abortions? - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Higher women's clinic standards or end to abortions?

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BIRMINGHAM - AL -

Abortions are most often outpatient procedures. But in Alabama, clinics that provide them do not have to meet the same standards as other centers, which also perform same day surgery.

One state lawmaker wants to change that. Representative Mary Sue McClurkin, (R) Indian Springs, doesn't understand how this issue has gone untouched for so long. She says most people are unaware of the lack of regulations. But she's also getting criticism from some clinics who believe it's just another attempt to shut them down.

Questions about clinic oversight arose following the closure of New Woman All Women Clinic in Birmingham last September due to accusations of over drugging patients who ended up at hospitals.

But McClurkin says it's not a new problem.

"I don't know why we've let this go for so long and have substandards for healthcare for women who choose to have abortions. It's despicable," she said.

McClurkin's Women's Health and Safety Act will go before the House for a vote Tuesday.

"It's just aimed at making those clinics safe places for women who come to have abortions," said McClurkin.

The bill requires the clinics to live up to the same standards as an ambulatory clinic. Doctors must have privileges in nearby hospitals. Abortions performed on teens must be reported, and fire plans must be filed.

But many women's and abortion clinics, like Planned Parenthood, aren't backing the bill.

"The requirements in this bill are excessive and medically unnecessary. This is a politically motivated attempt to outlaw abortion in Alabama under any circumstance," said Nikema Williams, the vice president of public policy at Planned Parenthood.

Williams oversees Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. Mississippi passed a similar law last year. She says it's closing clinics because hospitals are denying doctors' privileges.

"Opponents to women's health will launch a campaign to pressure hospitals to reject abortion providers because the real purpose is to make safe and legal abortions illegal in Alabama," she said.

But for McClurkin, it comes down to a higher standard of care.

"If you aren't meeting those standards for healthcare already, maybe you should be closed down," she said.

The House reconvenes at 1p.m. Tuesday.

McClurkin's bill is expected to be one of the first pieces of business.

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