Tomorrow at 1 PM, the Alabama House of Representatives will take up legislation to ban abortion providers from operating within 2,000 feet of a school. The item is listed as #7 on the Special Order Calendar.

Meanwhile, the House voted last week to slash state departmental budgets again to resolve a long-foreseen gap between Alabama’s spending and its income. Senators are working on a competing proposal to legalize casinos and a lottery in the deeply-religious state. The only apparent point of agreement is that Alabama shouldn’t raise any taxes, as Governor Robert Bentley has proposed.

No legislative contrast could better reveal the disparate priorities of conservative Southern politicians. With just three weeks left in Alabama’s legislative session, House lawmakers move quickly to satisfy their partisan culture warriors and ‘protect the unborn’ while denying anything for the already-born, lest they offend the god of mammon doing so.

Written by James Henderson, forced-birth activist and former head of the Alabama Christian Coalition, HB527 is specifically aimed at shutting down a particular reproductive health care facility that gives him a special case of heartburn. Located down the street from a Huntsville public school, the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives (AWCRA) has an attached private parking lot which prevents Henderson’s gang of creepy stalkers and weird hobbyists from getting in the faces of women who visit the clinic.

The bill, which consciously equates legal and Constitutionally-protected reproductive health care service providers with sex offenders, is bound to fail an expensive legal challenge. BU has reported on this emerging battle for months because it highlights the underlying, monumental hypocrisy of forced-birth activists who sue all the way up to the Supreme Court to strike down state-mandated ‘buffer zones’ between themselves and the clinics.

In selling his bill to the House Health Committee, Henderson argued that his own group’s activities — displaying pictures of rendered fetuses, jaywalking, shouting through a bullhorn, taking video of people coming and going from the facility — will be too disruptive to the school campus down the street. During the hearing, Henderson’s supporters even threatened to be as rowdy as possible unless their bill passes.

Since AWCRA reopened at its new location on Sparkman Drive, Huntsville officials have been forced to erect orange nets, and later locked gates, to prevent forced-birth activists from using the school parking lot to conduct their activities.

The former junior high building, which is being converted into a magnet school and will reopen in the Fall, has no windows for students to observe any protests outside.

Like many states, a series of TRAP (Targeted Regulations Against Providers) laws has closed clinics in Alabama, making it increasingly difficult and expensive for women to access abortion services. The new location in Huntsville was chosen to comply with the state’s deliberately-burdensome regulatory approach.

Contrary to the alacrity with which state legislators attack abortion access, consider the following dismal statistics that they are unable to ameliorate, year after year.

Alabama has the country’s most homeless children, places an unfair tax burden on its poorest people, ranks fifth from the bottom in per capita income, lags behind Russia and war-torn Lebanon in infant mortality, has the longest wait time for agency response to child abuse of any reporting state, is one of the three worst states in the union for low birth weight, and is currently considered the last place in America you’d want to have a baby.

None of these problems will be improved by further cuts to state departments. They will only get worse.

Bills like HB527 represent a theft of public resources. They are a waste of limited time and energy during Alabama’s 30-day legislative session, divert millions of dollars in legal fees to defend doomed laws, and satisfy only the vindictive demands of forced-birth activists without addressing the pressing needs of children born every day in the Heart of Dixie.

  • skyshoes

    How dark and sad. I saw a social/economic experiment gone awry right before my eyes (and wallet). Ocean City New Jersey was created as a resort for Methodists, it is dry (you can go right over to the mainland for a brew) and Atlantic City New Jersey, right across an inlet to the North decided to “save itself” by opening itself up to gambling (and Trump).

    You can be out on the Ocean City boardwalk at one in the morning and kids are still strolling with their families, eating funnel cakes, cotton candy and slipping in and out of arcades. My employees went to a convention in Atlantic City and had the window broken out of our vehicle at 8:00 at night. One rep went to get a snack and left the hotel/casino and was knifed in front of the convenience store. hookers on the corner. I was standing one day on the Boardwalk in AC and saw a pretzel vendor have his little cart dumped over (In front of Trump’s gaudy casino… Ayy it is New Joisey.. Move along buddy…

    These poor dumb crackers trying to still believe the failed Reaganomic bunk, should take a little trip up to South Jersey and see the economic and moral desolation of Atlantic vs the well to do family oriented highly taxed Ocean City.

    If they could tear themselves away from the hookers on the corners in AC..

    [cue banjos]

  • Xcitizen10

    Alabama, and the south in general suffers from identity politics. You’re just not a god fearing southerner if you don’t swallow even the worst parts of the conservative party’s policies. However, I would bet if the popular vote weren’t trumped by a legislative vote, the state would implement a social service utopia.

    The state can’t make the poor that disadvantaged by choice. There’s definitely a solid mechanism behind it.

    • cynthia curran

      Well, its mainly the white vote and blacks are far less than whites. Unlike Georgia or Texas minorities are not growing a lot in Alabama. In fact Georgia and Florida have a much better chance at being blue than Alabama because people come from the north and more minorities go to those states..

  • cynthia curran

    One thing that liberals did which was unwised was the supplemental poverty measure which includes welfare plus cost of living when you do the alternative poverty rate New York and California score higher than Alabama and the other southern states since there is a lot of immigrant poverty in Ca and Ny whose receiptants received less than those in the south. Also, cost of housing is much higher, this makes the south looked good. Republicans have use the supplemental to say California has the highest poverty rate like La is 27 percent or San Diego is 23 percent. I think you comments are good on the poverty issues. Being an ex-Republican conservative who lived in California once the actions of the right being able to control a state I was spared until the past 5 years which turn me against them.