Alabama Bill Could Shut Down All Abortion Clinics in State

A pro-choice rally in Mississippi, January 2013.Suzi Altman/ZUMA Press

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


The Alabama legislature passed a bill on Tuesday that will heavily restrict abortion, potentially shutting down all five of the state’s abortion clinics. The state House and Senate passed the bill by votes of 68-21 and 22-10 respectively, and Governor Bentley is expected to sign it soon.

One of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin, argued in February that this new law was necessary to protect women because “abortion removes the largest organ in a woman’s body.” 

That comment was neither scientifically accurate nor did it explain what Alabama’s Women’s Health and Safety Act is designed to do, so here it is: The bill, which copies legislation passed in Mississippi in 2012, mandates that doctors at abortion clinics have admitting privileges at local hospitals. This gives local hospitals the leeway to flat-out deny doctors these privileges. The doctors at Mississippi’s last abortion clinic, for instance, were rejected at all seven hospitals they approached for admitting privileges.

One of the bill’s sponsors argued the law was necessary to protect women because “abortion removes the largest organ in a woman’s body.” 

“[The hospitals] were clear that they didn’t deal with abortion and they didn’t want the internal or the external pressure of dealing with it,” Mississippi clinic owner Diane Derzis told the Associated Press in February.

“The reality is the hospital’s decisions will be based on ideology and politics” in Alabama, Nikema Williams, vice president of Planned Parenthood Southeast, told Mother Jones. “A lot of boards for public hospitals are appointed by the state.”

In Mississippi, litigation filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights has kept the clinic open for now: Last July, a judge blocked the state from penalizing the doctors while they try to secure the new privileges, buying the clinic more time. Williams says she expects women’s rights advocates in Alabama will also head to court to try and keep the state’s last few clinics open.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest