By PHILLIP RAWLS
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Alabama's governor said today he will sign tougher abortion clinic regulations into law if the state Senate approves them.
"We need to remember we are dealing with human life and this is what God expects us to do," Republican Gov. Robert Bentley said at a Montgomery rally organized by abortion opponents in Montgomery. The Legislature's Republican presiding officers, Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey and House Speaker Mike Hubbard, also attended the rally.
The clinic regulatory bill has passed the House last month largely with Republican support, and it is scheduled for a vote Wednesday in the Senate Health Committee. Committee Chairman Greg Reed, R-Jasper, said he expects the committee to approve the bill and send it to the Senate. A Senate vote could come as early as next week.
"I can assure you, if it comes to me, I will sign it," Bentley said.
One of the bill's requirements is that abortion clinics have a doctor present who has approval to admit patients to a local hospital so the physician can provide follow-up care. Currently, clinics can use traveling doctors to perform abortions, provided the clinics contract with a physician who has admitting privileges at a local hospital to provide follow-up care. Another requirement would establish stricter building standards.
Opponents say the legislation is designed to close most of Alabama's five abortion clinics. Nikema Williams, Planned Parenthood Southeast vice president of public policy, said this bill and several other abortion-related measures pending in the Legislature are "onerous attacks on women's rights."
Mississippi has a similar law that is being challenged in court by the state's only abortion clinic.