Pro-Life Activist Seeking Buffer Zone Between Abortion Clinics and Schools

James Henderson, executive director of the Christian Coalition of Alabama, wants to close down North Alabama’s only abortion clinic, the Alabama Women’s Center in Huntsville.

It is a fight he’s been waging for a decade.

Dalton Johnson, the executive director of the Alabama’s Women’s Center, is fighting to keep the facility open. Johnson is not a man made for surrender. He’s already had to close one facility because the building’s hallways were too narrow according to a new Alabama law, but was able to move and re-open in the new building.

Henderson has never knuckled under, either.

He filed suit against the city of Huntsville, alleging the city was violating its own zoning ordinances when the Alabama Women’s Center was allowed to open at a new location, right across the street from a school, the Academy for the Arts and Sciences.

Judge Alan Mann dismissed the suit involving Huntsville’s zoning ordinance “with prejudice,” writing in his opinion, “The Court has taken into account all of the arguments of counsel, the testimony and evidence presented at the hearing, as well as all of the relevant and applicable law. The Court does not in this case, nor should it in any case, interpose personal feelings or politics in the rendering of a just and legal decision.”

The Christian Coalition of Alabama decided an appeal would be fruitless.

But Henderson has not given up.

He has a new plan: a new law that would impose a 2,000-foot buffer zone between abortion clinics and schools, just like the buffer zone meant to ensure sex offenders keep their 2,000-foot distance from schools.

Liberal groups like Think Progress say the negative impact of that would be twofold. Not only would it force the closure of the only abortion clinic in North Alabama, it would increase “abortion stigma” by equating the medical procedure with sexual deviancy.

The Christian Coalition of Alabama has been holding regular protests outside the clinic even though Academy for the Arts and Sciences administrators blocked off the parking lot the pro-life demonstrators had been using as a staging area.

“It’s just not a good idea to have an abortion clinic with all that goes on, with all the free speech activities, the noise, the confusion, the boom boxes and the police cars with blue lights. All those things that are acceptable as free speech activity, it’s just not what you want across the street from a school,” Henderson told a local TV station, WHNT.

Johnson told the Huntsville Times that all the ruckus mentioned by Henderson actually comes from the pro-life demonstrators.

“Nobody would know this is an abortion clinic if the protesters weren’t out there,” he said.

The buffer-zone legislation has not been proposed, yet.