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Abortion clinic bill clears Alabama Legislature

The Alabama Legislature late Tuesday adopted stringent new regulations for abortion clinics that supporters called a step to protect women but that others called medically unnecessary and a disguised effort to force the closing of the state’s five abortion clinics.

The bill, like measures passed last year in Mississippi and Tennessee and last month in North Dakota, would require that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges at local hospitals.

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Several of Alabama’s clinics rely on doctors who fly in from out of state, and given the ­hostile political climate it appears unlikely that nearby hospitals would grant them such privileges, said Nikema Williams, vice president for public policy of Planned Parenthood Southeast, which runs two of the clinics.

A similar admissions requirement passed last year in Mississippi would shut down that state’s only abortion clinic, but enforcement is stayed while a federal court decides whether the law amounts to an unjustified infringement on access to abortion.

Another clause in the Alabama bill would require clinics to meet the building, equipment, and staffing standards of ambulatory surgery centers, which would require some clinics to spend millions of dollars altering buildings, and buying beds and monitoring equipment, for what they say is no relevant medical purpose.

The bill will be sent to Governor Robert Bentley, a Republican, who previously said he planned to sign it.

The American Civil Liberties Union said that if the bill becomes law it is likely to sue to block it.

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