Today, Alabama’s Republican governor, Robert Bentley, will do what he says “God expects” and sign HB 57, a targeted regulation of abortion provider (TRAP) bill that will force abortion providers in the state to rebuild their clinics and only employ doctors who have admitting privileges at local hospitals, potentially shutting down all of the clinics in the state.
Judging by the individuals he’s invited to the bill signing, Bentley is making the event an anti-choice celebration. According to WSFA.com, attendees will include Republican Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey and the house and senate bill sponsors, Speaker of the House Mary Sue McClurkin (R-Indian Springs) and state Sen. Scott Beason (R-Gardendale).
Though the bill is of great concern to reproductive health advocates, the state’s abortion clinics won’t face closure immediately, and likely not without a fight. Like the TRAP bill in Mississippi that was also meant to end safe abortion access, clinics will be granted some time to come up with plans to alter their facilities and become compliant with the law, if they choose to do so.
Obtaining admitting privileges for existing physicians, or finding new physicians who already have privileges, will be an especially difficult hurdle. Planned Parenthood Southeast, which actively campaigned against the bill, told AL.com that it will explore the cost of updating its buildings, but it does not at this point have privileges for any of its doctors, so the group will have to seek doctors out.
Whereas any clinic could technically be made to comply with these new, unnecessary regulations if it had enough money, you can’t pay a hospital to offer admitting privileges. That’s a choice each hospital has to make on its own, and anti-choice activists will try to coerce them not to offer such privileges to abortion providers.
That’s what the bill’s proponents are hoping for. As state Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur) said during the house debate on HB 57, “I think it will truly limit abortion in Alabama, and I’m pleased with that.”
The new law will go into effect on July 1, 2013.