Governor Robert Bentley on Tuesday signed the Women's Health and Safety Act, a measure that will improve and strengthen the standards of care at women's clinics in Alabama.
"As a physician, and as a governor, I am proud to sign this legislation," Governor Bentley said. "This bill provides appropriate standards of care. It has been endorsed by pro-life groups across Alabama. This is a key piece of legislation in the House Republican Agenda, and I am honored to stand with legislative leaders and sign this bill."
Governor Bentley was joined by the bill's sponsors and legislative leadership during a signing ceremony at the State Capitol.
"I am strongly pro-life," Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey said. "We can't ban abortion--that's a federal issue that's been confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court--but at the state level, we can regulate and control unsafe health practices. I support the Legislature's efforts to restrict the operation of unsafe clinics to help ensure a woman's health."
"With the Governor's signature on the Women's Health and Safety Act, Republicans are fortifying our efforts to safeguard the health and safety of Alabama women and defend the rights of the unborn," said Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn). "Since the U.S. Supreme Court unfortunately allows abortion to remain legal, this law is imperative to ensure that the procedure is performed in the most safe and healthy environment possible."
"The women of Alabama deserve the highest possible standard of healthcare, particularly at such a difficult time," said the bill's House sponsor, Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin (R-Indian Springs Village). "If an abortion clinic is truly dedicated to providing adequate care, ensuring dependable safeguards and putting patients' needs before profits, it will embrace this legislation rather than oppose it. For far too long, Alabama has had more health regulations in place to protect your cat or dog at a vet clinic than it does for a woman receiving an abortion; this law will correct that shameful disparity."
The Women's Health and Safety Act will require clinics that provide abortions to meet the same facility standards as ambulatory care centers. The legislation also calls for doctors who provide abortions to adhere to stronger standards, including having admitting privileges at local hospitals. The bill also includes strong enforcement procedures for doctors or clinics that fail to comply with the new health and safety standards.
"I applaud Governor Bentley for signing this legislation to provide reasonable and medically-appropriate health and safety standards for women's health clinics," Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) said. "These patients deserve to be treated in a safe environment and in a facility capable of responding to medical emergencies should the need arise."
"Even though I continue to be disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed abortion to remain the law of the land, we can take these measures to protect the health of women," said Senator Scott Beason (R-Gardendale). "With the signing of this important law, we are taking steps to implement a comprehensive set of safety standards that will ensure that women's health clinics are providing an appropriate level of care."