By HEATHER GANN, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A bill pending before the House Health Committee would require women before an abortion to call a state 1-800 number to find out what public resources might be available if they decide not to have the procedure .
Internal bill 401 also creates a “Pregnancy Launch Program” that would be overseen by the Alabama Department of Public Health, to connect women to medical assistance and postpartum support.
The “Every Mother Matters Act,” by Rep. Charlotte Meadows, R-Montgomery, is based on a similar bill passed last year in Arkansas.
“This is an effort to ensure that every mother, when she finds herself most vulnerable in an abortion office or clinic, has the choice to understand her options,” Meadows said.
The bill states that the ADPH will create the Pregnancy Launch Program”by contracting with one or more agencies to provide direct services, support, social service case management, and program referrals statewide to birth parents of unborn children, birth or adoptive parents of children under two years of age, and to parents and guardians of pregnant minors.
“These resources are available to all women for up to two years after childbirth or abortion,” Meadows said. “So this completely refutes the longstanding argument that we (pro-life lawmakers) stop caring about babies when they’re born.”
A tax note on the invoice indicated that the cost to ADPH would depend on the number of women using the program. Meadows estimated the call center would cost between $2 million and $4 million, depending on staffing needs.
The bill requires abortion providers to document and report compliance with the law and imposes a $5,000 fine for each instance of noncompliance. State law already requires providers to give women written information about pregnancy-related services.
The Committee did not vote on the bill on Wednesday. Chairman Paul Lee said it could happen this week, but more information is needed on costs and where the funding is coming from.
“We’re not sure we can do it at a reasonable cost. The timing may have to be delayed until there is a funding opportunity,” said Lee, R-Dothan.
“Rep. Meadows has an awful lot of work to do (on this bill) before coming back.
HB401 co-sponsors include reps Terri Collins, R-Decatur, Jamie Kiel, R-Russellville, Scott Stadthagen, R-Hartselle, Andrew Sorrell, R-Muscle Shoals, Arnold Mooney, R-Birmingham, Debbie Wood, R- Valley, Ginny Shaver, R-Leesburg, Margie Wilcox, R-Mobile, Ritchie Whorton, R-Owens Cross Roads, Rep. Rich Wingo, R-Tuscaloosa and Tommy Hanes, R-Bryant.