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Alabama joins new antiabortion drive, legal challenge may be next

Alabama joins Kansas, Arkansas, and North Dakota among states that have already tried to dial back abortion access in 2013. Alabama's legislation adds new building requirements for clinics.

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Meanwhile, the Kansas Senate approved a law Monday that defines human life as beginning at conception and prohibits any direct or indirect state support for abortions. The law would also prohibit any employees or volunteers of organizations that provide abortions – including Planned Parenthood – “from providing any information on human sexuality to students in public schools,” reports the Kansas City Star.

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Ryan Brown edits the Africa Monitor blog and contributes to the national and international news desks of the Monitor. She is a former Fulbright fellow to South Africa and holds a degree in history from Duke University. 

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Alabama and Kansas join Arkansas and North Dakota among states that have already tried to dial back abortion access in 2013. In early March, Arkansas passed what was described as America’s toughest restrictions on abortion, a law making almost all abortions after 12 weeks illegal.

But the state didn’t hold that title for long. Later that month, North Dakota’s lawmakers approved a ban on most abortions after six weeks – the point at which a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) said that the law may not be constitutional, but called it a legitimate attempt by the state government to probe the boundaries of Roe v. Wade, Reuters reports.

North Dakota’s law also has a provision requiring a local doctor. And as in Mississippi, it threatens the existence of the single operational abortion facility in the state. The Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, N.D., has promised to challenge the law in court, according to Reuters.

Legal challenges are also expected to the Arkansas legislation.

Alabama’s new bill passed over the chorus of 200 protesters who gathered outside the statehouse Tuesday. Planned Parenthood executive Nikema Williams told Alabama.com that if the governor signed the bill, she expected one of the state’s clinics would proceed with a legal challenge.

The number of abortion providers in Alabama has dwindled in recent years, falling from 13 in 2005 to eight in 2008 and four in 2012, according to Reuters. 

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