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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A crowd of about 100 people rallied outside the Alabama Statehouse on Wednesday to protest legislation they say would close abortion clinics or attempt to outright ban most abortions.
Planned Parenthood Southeast organized the rally as lawmakers consider three abortion bills, including one that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy
"We want them to step out of the exam room. Let the women of the great state of Alabama make the decisions for themselves as to how they are going to take care of themselves," said Dr. Didi Saint-Louis, the medical director at Planned Parenthood Southeast.
Nikema Williams, vice president of public policy for Planned Parenthood Southeast, said the bill would ban abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy, often before a woman might know she's pregnant.
The fetal heartbeat law would be a direct conflict to the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. A federal judge ruled a similar North Dakota law unconstitutional and Saint-Louis predicted a similar result in Alabama.
"Try as they may, they do not have the right to dismantle Roe vs. Wade," Saint-Louis said of lawmakers.
The bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Terri Collins of Decatur, has said she believes another court might rule differently. Collins has said she believes it is "common sense" to define the start of life with a heartbeat because death is defined by the absence of a heartbeat.
Lawmakers are also considering a bill that would prohibit an abortion clinic from being located within 2,000 feet of a public school. The bill is aimed at a Huntsville clinic across the street from a school.
However, Williams said, the bill could close all but one of the state's five abortion clinics because the definition of "school" could include universities.
The bills have cleared a House committee but have not had a vote on the House floor.
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