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The Alabama Women's Center for Reproductive Alternatives had failed a surprise inspection by health investigators.
Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten

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Huntsville abortion facility reopens near a middle school

Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten

A Hunstville, Alabama, abortion facility that was forced to close its doors last June has reopened in a new location across the street from a middle school.

The Alabama Women's Center for Reproductive Alternatives reopened Monday, after state inspectors decided the new facility met the standards set by a new law requiring abortion centers maintain the same health and safety requirements as other Ambulatory Surgical Facilities (ASCs). Some of those requirements include elevators and hallways large enough to accommodate gurneys, parking lots with enough space for emergency vehicles, and easily washable floors and ceilings.

The abortion business’s previous facility had failed a surprise inspection by health investigators who said employees did not clean exam tables between abortions, dispensed expired medication, and failed to comply with state informed consent laws.

Facility owner Dalton Johnson told AL.com he is "extremely relieved" that his business was able to reopen. “A lot of obstacles were coming in front of us, but we just kept moving forward,” Johnson said.

Johnson was only able to relocate his abortion business after the Huntsville city zoning board voted 3-to-2 to allow him to use a 1998 zoning waiver that had allowed the building’s previous owner, Huntsville Hospital, to use the facility as an outpatient medical office, despite its location in a residential neighborhood.

Pro-life activists in the area argued passionately against continuing the waiver, pointing out that it was explicitly written as conditional, meaning that a new owner should have to file for a fresh waiver. They also argued that an abortion clinic or ASC is a completely different type of facility than a medical office, which should also negate the previous waiver.

Last month, Rev. James Henderson and the Life Legal Defense Foundation filed a lawsuit over the decision, which says the zoning board “erroneously determined" that the old waiver should apply to the new abortion facility.

"An abortion provider is in no way comparable to a hospital satellite site," said Dana Cody, president and executive director of LLDF. "There is absolutely no correlation between pregnancy termination - which destroys preborn life - and a hospital clinic that promotes healing and wellness. To draw such a comparison is ludicrous.”

Henderson told WHNT 19 news that he’s not giving up on the lawsuit, and that he and other pro-life leaders will continue to protest the office.

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