By HEATHER GANN, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A bill pending in the House Health Committee would require women prior to an abortion to call a state-staffed 1-800 number to find out what public resources might be available if they decided not to have the procedure.
House Bill 401 also creates a “Pregnancy Launch Program” that would be overseen by the Alabama Department of Public Health, to link women with 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 make sure every mother when she finds herself most vulnerable in an abortion office or clinic is given the choice to understand her options,” Meadows said.
The bill says ADPH will create the Pregnancy Launch Program “by contracting with one or more agencies to provide direct services, support, social services case management, and program referrals statewide to biological parents of unborn children, biological or adoptive parents of children under two years of age, and parents and legal guardians of pregnant minors.”
“These resources are available to all women for up to two years post birth or abortion,” Meadows said. “So this completely refutes the long-time argument that we (pro-life legislators) stop caring about the babies when they’re born.”
A fiscal note on the bill said the cost to ADPH would depend on how many women use the program. Meadows estimated the call center would cost about $2 million to $4 million, depending on staffing needs.
The bill requires abortion providers to document and report compliance with the law and assesses a $5,000 fine for each instance of non-compliance. 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 that could happen this week, but more information is needed about costs and where funding would come from.
“We’re not sure we can do this with reasonable cost. Timing may have to be delayed until there’s an opportunity for funding,” Lee, R-Dothan, said.
“Rep. Meadows has a tremendous amount of work to do (on this bill) before she comes back.”
Co-sponsors on HB401 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.