HB 57: How to Shut Down a Woman’s Right to Choose

I attended the public hearing on AL HB 57 having the the misnomer of being called the “Women’s Health and Safety Act.” I had a chance to speak to this bill. Here is what I said:

Let’s be honest about what HB 57 really is about: The fiscal notes make the intention of this bill very clear. It is to shut down medical clinics–not to protect the lives of women. This bill is about government interfering in the individual rights of women having domain over their own bodies. Plain and simple. This is not about safer medical clinics. Stiff regulations with class C felony charges for non-compliance are an attempt to bully clinics into closing if they are unable to comply with the regulations because of cost factors to come up to the new codes—codes that include interfering with Doctors determining the safest course of action for their patient. Do not be deceived by HB 57 it is not about safety it is about interference in choices women make over their own bodies. Women will seek abortions whether there are clinics in this state or not. The question is will the women have them in medical clinics or in some alley as they did 40 years ago before Roe v Wade. I urge you to vote down HB 57.

There were several people who were invited to speak first in favor of this bill.  Not as many as I anticipated and those opposing this bill far outnumbered them.  Two were women with heart wrenching tales of being whisked through back door entrances and then left alone after the procedure. One woman had her abortion in 1977. The second woman’s tale was even more harrowing, claiming she had become pregnant before her wedding and her fiance forced her at gunpoint to have an abortion and then after her being coerced never saw her fiance again. She then made the claim that she can no longer have children because the abortion resulted in her having cancer three times making her unable to conceive children.

I found both of these heart wrenching stories to be poor choices to support this bill. The first one because the event took place in 1977. I was to find out by later testimony the clinic she went to for  her abortion was closed decades ago because of sub-standards. The second story because being coerced at gun point to get an abortion is a criminal offense and she is blaming the clinic instead of her assailant. Further, studies have proven there is no link between abortions and cancer.  While these stories were heart wrenching they didn’t have much credibility to address the current situation of the state’s remaining five clinics.

One of the clinic operators from Montgomery spoke to the requirement that doctors must have attending privileges at local hospitals.  She stated that the doctors at her clinic come from Atlanta and Washington, DC.   She stated that doctors that only perform abortions cannot receive attending privileges at local hospitals in Alabama.  But this fact alarmed me. No one asked the obvious question.  Why did this clinic have to rely on doctors from distant and out of state cities like Atlanta and Washington DC?  Are there no doctors already in Montgomery willing to perform abortions?

In the  abortions arranged in this state there have only been 6 deaths of women as a result.  And the two most recent deaths occurred over 20 years ago.  Another opponent stated in any other medical field this kind of statistic would be hailed as a sign of excellence.  She further stated that women are 14 times more likely to die from a pregnancy she didn’t want  than if she had an abortion.

One of the requirements of HB 57 is to require clinics to meet the standards prescribed in the rules foroffice-based procedures – moderate sedation/analgesia,” and shall meet all other requirements in those rules, including the recommended guidelines for follow-up care, requirements for recovery area, assessment for discharge, reporting requirements, and registration requirements.

However, the five clinics in Alabama never use heavy sedation and never general anesthesia. The requirements mandate that any clinic with 4 or more patients receiving moderate to heavy sedation at a time need to be able to evacuate patients via gurneys in case of fire.  The clinics maintain they never have more than 3 women at a time in recovery. The sedation used is light to moderate sedation and the women are ambulatory and able to leave on their own and have no need for gurneys.
All five clinics in order to comply with the requirements needed for moderate sedation/analgesia which they rarely use would include building new facilities because the land they currently are on does not allow for expansion.  In short, these clinics will be forced to close because they will not be able to comply with the provisions of this bill, provisions that are not warranted and have only one purpose and one purpose only: to shut down legal abortion clinics in the state.
Next up:  SB 205 Personhood bill defining the rights of a newly impregnated egg as having full rights and protection as an independently living human.
HB 57 already is preparing for passing SB 205 because  Section 2 begins with The Legislature finds  all of the following:
(4) Abortion involves not only a surgical procedure with the usual risks attending surgery, but also involves the taking of human life. 
This means the legislature in passing this law is already prejudiced in believing that abortions are immoral and those who have abortions are murderers. If this bill passes it will effectively close the remaining five abortion clinics in the state.
HB 57 will be coming up for a vote next Wednesday after there are amendments proposed and further review is made after findings of this hearing.  There will be no further public hearings on this bill before the Senate.


  1. Thanks Fred. Federal regs are already plenty stringent. These clowns will take any angle to restrict women’s rights.

  2. Mr. Hammond, thank you for standing up for women everywhere, especially here in AL.

  3. Thank you for speaking up for the women of Alabama today. It lifted my heart to hear your support for us.

  4. I do believe that all legal medical procedures should be available in hospitals. Why not take abortion out of the ghetto of clinics, and require that all hospitals who get federal funding make all legal medical procedures available in those hospitals?

  5. The writer is not well-informed on the practices of abortion clinics. As a woman who had an abortion an Alabama clinic, I was given lemonade and crackers in the waiting room after my procedure, then asked three times to leave because the room was so full. The staff, who had not asked the routine outpatient surgery question, “who is responsible for driving you home?”, did not notice that I exited the building alone. Upon realizing that I was still heavily sedated, I then called someone to come help me.
    Another woman who had an abortion at that same clinic was afterwards quickly ushered out the back door by the street, so the other “clients would not become upset.” In Birmingham last year, two clients in one day were carried by EMT’s down broken-down steps in an alley next to a dumpster to ambulances, because the facility could not accomodate gurneys. Investigators discovered that unlicensed medical staff was administering anesthesia that day…vasopressin, at 2.0mL instead of the 0.2mL dose indicated. The victims’ bloodpressures had fallen below the bottom of the normal range. If it hadn’t been for pro-lifers
    taking pictures, the 70 page document of health code
    violations would not have been written up and the
    clinic would still be in operation.
    Women routinely exit the clinics, six to eight within an hour’s time, most of them still heavily sedated. Often, the abortionist is seen driving away before the last clients are discharged, with license plates from other states. As for the question, “why aren’t there local obstetricians willing to perform abortions”, why don’t you ask one of them?
    Regardless of the motives behind passing this bill, it serves to safeguard the lives of women.

    Thank you for sharing your opinion and your experiences. You are right I am not well versed in abortion clinics, I am a male. I do not have a medical reason to go to an abortion clinic. My question raised was in response to the public hearing. Not one committee member asked that question. That to me is an important question for legislators to ask if the intent is purely to save women’s lives. I don’t believe that is the intent of this bill. I don’t believe it was ever the intent of this bill.

    • I find you to be a remarkable exception in the category of pro-choice advocate, as you respected my comment and did not delete it from your site. I had concluded that no one “on the other side”, including all mainstream media, wants to hear my account, and certainly they never publish it.
      Additionally, many men decline to answer any question regarding the subject of abortion, citing their position of “inablity to relate” and as “having no business in deciding the matter.” As it is apparent to me that you are different in that you actually care about the well-being of women, I will express my opinion toward men who “take refuge” in this position. They are cowards. They have abandoned their wives, sisters, daughters, and granddaughters to grapple with the heart-wrenching decision of whether or not to subject their bodies and[what many of them realize is] their unborn children to an invasive, traumatic, and often painful procedure that leaves them empty, both literally and figuratively, for the rest of their lives, resulting in lifelong remorse over a loss that is never validated due to our society’s approval of their decision in the first place. Otherwise, they live in denial, never facing their pain, and instead become resentful and bitter towards men. Ironically, these women aggressively campaign for the right to “choose” the very thing that damaged them in ways they don’t realize. They are usually the most hostile of all abortion -rights advocates.
      One more question I submit to you regarding the significant numbers of women who are emerging with their accounts of abortion experiences…what are their motives? After all, women who experience abortion procedures want to “forget about it and move on with their lives.” Many of these accounts are presented by women who, in spite of their grief, have achieved success in their
      careers and family lives. Wouldn’t they rather be known for the accomplishments they are actually proud of? As one example of these, I can answer: It’s about righteous indignation, and exposing the lies told by the abortion industry…primarily the one about abortion “empowering” women. We desperately want to expose the truth of social injustice against our gender. As it turns out, abortion is not merely one of the many routine elective surgical procedures. Women are strong and we do not have to choose between our children’s lives and our own.
      I realize I have monopolized the entire page…I so appreciate your consideration. I would love to converse with you in person, and listen to more of your thoughts on this issue.

      Response: I do indeed care about the safety and well-being of women’s lives. I don’t doubt for a minute that choosing to have an abortion or choosing not to have an abortion is perhaps the most difficult decision anyone has to make, both decisions result in consequences that have to be lived with forever. And those consequences can be equally painful. I will ponder more of what you have said here above and respond in blog post.

  6. Editor note: All of the following quotes are over 20 years old and therefore are suspect of not being relevant to the current standards and practices of the clinics in Alabama today. I have already been told by the submitter of these quotes that I am not knowledgeable of clinic practices. That is a true statement. However many of these quotes refer to Late term abortions which are illegal in Alabama. This was not the case 20 years ago and therefore many of the quotes mentioned are not applicable to Alabama. I decided to publish these quotes submitted but felt there needed to be a qualifier at the beginning.

    As for that reason as to why most doctors refuse to perform abortions:
    end it. Here are some eye-opening confessions from current and former abortionists.

    “They [the women] are never allowed to look at the ultrasound because we knew that if they so much as heard the heart beat, they wouldn’t want to have an abortion.”
    – Dr. Randall, former abortionist
    ’Pro-Choice 1990: Skeletons in the Closet” by David Kuperlain and Mark Masters in Oct. “New Dimensions” magazine.

    “Even now I feel a little peculiar about it, because as a physician I was trained to conserve life, and here I am destroying it.”
    – Dr. Benjamin Kalish, abortionist

    “You have to become a bit schizophrenic. In one room, you encourage the patient that the slight irregularity in the fetal heart is not important, that she is going to have a fine, healthy baby. Then, in the next room you assure another woman, on whom you just did a saline abortion, that it is a good thing that the heartbeat is already irregular… she has nothing to worry about, she will NOT have a live baby… All of a sudden one noticed that at the time of the saline infusion there was a lot of activity in the uterus. That’s not fluid currents. That’s obviously the fetus being distressed by swallowing the concentrated salt solution and kicking violently and that’s to all intents and purposes, the death trauma… somebody has to do it, and unfortunately we are the executioners in this instance[.]”
    – Dr. John Szenes, abortionist
    Via EWTN.com: Magda Denes. “Performing Abortions.” Commentary Magazine, October 1976, pages 33 to 37. A truly frightening and profoundly sickening article by a doctor who observes and describes in graphic detail a number of saline abortions and their results. She acknowledges that abortion is killing, but a type of “necessary” killing. Also see the “Letters” sections in the December 1976 and February 1977 issues of Commentary Magazine.

    “Telling those women their fetuses feel pain is heaping torment upon torment. These women have real pain. They did not come to this decision easily. Creating another barrier for them to get the medical care they need is really unfair.”
    – Abortionist Dave Turok

    “This is why I hate overuse of forceps – things tear. There are only two kinds of doctors who have never perforated a uterus, those that lie and those who don’t do abortions.”
    – Anonymous Abortionist

    “I got to where I couldn’t stand to look at the little bodies anymore.”
    – Dr. Beverly McMillan, former abortionist

    “I think in many ways I’ve been lucky to have been part of this. If I hadn’t gotten involved, I would have gone through life probably being perfectly satisfied to go to the medical society parties and it would have been very, very dull. I would have been bored silly.”
    – Dr. Jane Hodgson, late abortionist

    “Sorrow, quite apart from the sense of shame, is exhibited in some way by virtually every woman for whom I performed an abortion, and that’s 20,000 as of 1995. The sorrow is revealed by the fact that most women cry at some point during the experience… The grieving process may last from several days to several years… Grief is sometimes delayed… The grief may lie sublimated and dormant for years.”
    – Dr. Susan Poppema, abortionist
    (Poppema, S. & Henderson, M. (1996) Why I Am an abortion doctor. New York: Prometheus Books)

    “If I see a case…after twenty weeks, where it frankly is a child to me, I really agonize over it because the potential is so imminently there…On the other hand, I have another position, which I think is superior in the hierarchy of questions, and that is “who owns this child?” It’s got to be the mother.”
    – Dr. James T. McMahon, abortionist
    (American Medical News, July 5, 1993)

    “We know that it’s killing, but the state permits killing under certain circumstances.”
    – Dr. Neville Sender, abortionist
    (John Powell, S.J. Abortion: The Silent Holocaust (Argus Communications: Allen, Tx) 1981, p 66)

    • In response to the qualifier preceding this comment…during my more recent experience(than 20 years ago) in an Alabama abortion clinic, the doctor did not follow protocol, but instead allowed me to view the ultrasound of my eight week-old fetus only after I requested to see the monitor, and after I had been sedated. Although I was crying very loudly and was in obvious distress, he proceeded with the abortion. In spite of the small size and poor resolution of the monitor, I was able to make out the baby’s head. This is typical of many abortion experiences, not excluding those occurring in the state of Alabama

      By 4 weeks, the mammalian fetus has a detectable heartbeat, and by 7 weeks, has a neurological system and responds to tactile stimulation. Keep in mind that most women don’t realize that they’re pregnant until at least 6 weeks after conception.

      Editor’s note: This has been changed in Alabama. The law currently states that all women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound and to be shown (not wait to be asked) the photographs of this ultrasound. I agree with the Guttmacher Institute’s belief (http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_RFU.pdf) that this law is a veiled attempt to personify the fetus to dissuade the woman who has chosen to have an abortion. There are better ways to reduce the need for abortions than this emotionally manipulative and traumatic procedure.

      • Editor’s note: I have been publishing these comments from this reader because I respect her experiences. Keep in mind these are one person’s experiences in a culture that has demonized and stigmatized choices women make over their own body. My publishing this comment and the others by this writer does not, however, alter my belief of a woman’s right to choose. I will not be publishing any additional comments by this writer because she should have her own blog instead of using mine as a platform. This will be the last comment I will publish. I will be writing another blog post to respond more fully to the issues this writer raises.

        Regardless of the ultrasound law’s intentions, its effects are beneficial in every instance.

        Persuasion, personification, explanation, manipulation, traumatization, or any other subjective form of communication is neither necessary nor utilized while performing the ultrasound procedure. Ultrasound technology produces an image constructed from radiofrequencies and mathematics. Only the unborn child in the flesh is a more objective representation of the subject in view.

        As for me…I am haunted NOT by my baby’s ultrasound image, but by the cries of other newborn infants in the grocery store, the nightmares of my young son falling into a ravine as his fingers slip from my hand, the sound of a vacuum cleaner, and memories of the abortion procedure itself. I forever yearn for that moment I set my eyes on that monitor and cried, because I am certain that, had I not been medicated, I would have told the doctor to stop, and then left that place with my baby.

        As for other women…for several years I have been a sidewalk counselor at the same abortion clinic. I have watched hundreds of women come and go, in all states of mind. I have witnessed maybe two or three dozen leave the clinic smiling (sometimes even laughing) as they announce to all of us, “I changed my mind. I couldn’t do it!” A substantial number of those are either holding their ultrasound printouts, or telling us that their minds were changed by them. Some of them leave quickly, perhaps to distance themselves from the whole situation. Some of them stop to share their joy and to thank us. Some of them cry and hug everyone within their reach. Sometimes the person(s)accompanying them are also crying. One thing I know is this–not one single woman who announces that she has changed her mind or leaves the clinic prematurely appears to be upset. They always seem happy and relieved. The only people I have ever seen angry in such an instance are males who drove them there. Sadly, one such man was the teenage girl’s uncle, of whom she told me she was afraid. Interestingly, parents seem relieved, but reserved and eager to depart without fanfare.I am convinced that the “ultrasound mandate” does not traumatize abortion patients. Instead, it affords them one last chance to consider the reality of their condition and the weight of the action they are taking. Even women who are “dead set” on going through with the procedure sometimes change their minds, and again, they do not regret their decisions to allow their babies to live.

        I have met hundreds of post-abortive women since “coming to terms” with my loss (which actually occurred several years after my abortion). Factors which have brought us to that point include more recent pregnancies which developed to term, pregnancies of sisters or close friends, nursing school rotations in neonatal units, and sometimes the inability to conceive.

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