- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 26, 2015

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Abortion clinics would be prohibited near schools under a bill approved Tuesday by the Alabama House, legislation that would force one of the state’s five abortion clinics to move or close.

The House of Representatives voted 79-15 for the proposal to ban clinics within 2,000 feet of a public K-12 school. The state would not license or renew a license for clinics within that distance. The bill now moves to the state Senate, where it faces an uncertain outlook with five meeting days remaining in the legislative session.

Rep. Ed Henry, R-Hartselle, said the clinics are not appropriate near children, nor are clinic protests, which he said can include graphic statements from “both sides” and photos of aborted fetuses,

“The kids are being exposed to an element of life that they really don’t need to be exposed to at 4 or 5 or 6 years old,” Henry said. “It’s a volatile atmosphere that our children shouldn’t be subjected to.”

Opposing lawmakers called the bill an attempt to close an abortion clinic in a state where lawmakers have recently enacted or proposed multiple abortion restrictions.

Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, said if the protests are the concern then the state should take action restricting the protesters.

“Let’s get real here. Who’s the problem? It’s not the clinic. Your bill is directed at the wrong entity,” Todd said.

The bill was introduced after the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives in Huntsville moved to a new location across the street from a city school building.

The school is currently vacant and undergoing renovations but will open in the fall as a magnet school, serving students in prekindergarten through eighth grade.

Clinic owner Dalton Johnson moved to the new location to comply with a 2013 Alabama law requiring abortion clinics to meet the same building requirements as ambulatory surgical centers, including wide halls that can accommodate gurneys and better fire suppression equipment.

Lawmakers rejected a proposal to grandfather in the Huntsville clinic.

Another bill introduced this session would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can happen as soon as six weeks into a pregnancy. That bill has not gotten a floor vote.

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