Lawmakers in Alabama passed legislation Tuesday which imposes tough restrictions on abortion clinics and practitioners within the state. The Women's Health and Safety Act [text, PDF] was passed in the Alabama Senate [official website] by a 22-10 vote [AL.com report] after having been approved [JURIST report] by the state's House of Representatives [official website] in February by a 73-23 margin. The legislation imposes new restrictions on abortion providers such as the requiring the practitioner to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and the clinic facilities to meet certain design criteria which require minimum widths of corridors and sinks. Supporters of the Women's Health and Safety Act say the act is intended to require that abortion clinics meet the same health standards as hospitals, thus better securing safety for women who choose to undergo an abortion. Critics of the act claim the measure will effectively close many abortion clinics in Alabama. The bill now goes to Republican Governor Robert Bentley [official website] for final approval. Also on Tuesday, the Indiana House of Representatives passed [Indiana Public Media report] legislation [text, PDF] which would require that clinics which offer the drug commonly called the "abortion pill" or "RU486" must also meet certain design and equipment standards as clinics which provide surgical abortions.
A number of states have passed restrictive abortion bills recently. Last month the Arkansas legislature voted to override [JURIST report] Governor Mike Beebe's recent veto of the Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act [Act 301, PDF], which bans abortions "of an unborn human individual whose heartbeat has been detected ... and is twelve (12) weeks or greater gestation." Days earlier Arkansas lawmakers voted to override the governor's veto [JURIST reports] of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act [HB 1037, PDF] which bans most abortions in the state 20 weeks after conception. That law made Arkansas the eighth US state to ban or restrict abortions after 20 weeks. Similar laws restricting reproductive rights [JURIST backgrounder] are currently facing legal challenges in Arizona and Georgia [JURIST reports].