The Alabama House voted Wednesday in a sweeping 73-19 decision to close abortion clinics located near schools. The bill now goes to the desk of Gov. Robert Bentley (R).
The bill prohibits the state Department of Public Health from issuing or renewing licenses for clinics located within 2,000 feet of a K-8 public school, according to the Associated Press. The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Paul Sanford (R), had likened abortion clinics to sex offenders, saying both should be kept away from children.
“We can put a restriction on whether a liquor store opens up across the street and make sure pedophiles stay away from schools,” Sanford said when he proposed the legislation in March. “I just think having an abortion clinic that close to elementary-age school children that actually have to walk on the sidewalk past it is not the best thing.”
If the bill is signed into law as expected, one of the state’s five licensed abortion clinics will be forced to move for the second time in two years. The Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives, which first moved in 2013 to comply with new building restrictions on abortion providers, is the only clinic serving women in the northern half of the state.
Minority Leader Craig Ford told the Associated Press that the new bill puts an undue burden on women seeking the medical procedure.
“We want to ban abortions, but we don’t want to fund Medicaid to take care of the babies once they’re born,” Ford said.