House Committees Pass Controversial Bills, ADECA Child Abuse Prevention Month

Apr 21, 2016

Committees in Alabama’s House of Representatives passed two notable bills yesterday. One would prevent abortion clinics from being located near public schools, and another would take the state of Alabama out of the marriage process entirely.

Legislators say the abortion bill is aimed at protecting students from the chaos of protestors outside abortion clinics. It would close an existing abortion facility in Huntsville, which was forced to move to its current location near a public school after the state mandated new facility requirements in 2013.

That bill has already passed the Senate. ACLU of Alabama Director Susan Watson says the measure is outrageous, and vowed to fight it in court if it becomes law.

The marriage bill would replace state-issued marriage licenses with contracts recorded by county and state governments. Lawmakers say that would keep probate judges with religious objections from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Bill sponsor Senator Greg Allbritton says the new system would still comply with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. The bill passed the Senate last month, but a similar measure failed to clear the House last year.

April is Child Abuse Prevention and Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

This observance is meant to bring awareness to survivors of abuse and to the resources available to victims across the state.

The Alabama Coalition Against Rape has established a network of rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters that are supported by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs as well as by public donations.

Jim Byard is the director of ADECA. He says Alabama’s network of child advocacy centers work closely with law enforcement.

“Most of the police departments and the sheriff’s departments, when they come in contact with a child abuse victim, they have such a partnership with their child advocacy center that they may bring that victim to the actual center, so that they’re not in a police department. As you might imagine, they’ve already been through a traumatic experience. So these folks are trained on how to deal with these victims.”

ADECA has turned their website and social media pages blue and teal in honor of the awareness month. More information on resources can be found there.

An event that helps connect people with disabilities with organizations providing assistance is happening today. APR student reporter Miranda Fulmore has more.

The Disability Summit is an event focused on empowering people with disabilities of all ages with information, resources and technology. The conference will have vendors on hand to answer attendees’ questions about resources that are available.

The summit is sponsored by the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services. ADRS is a state agency whose mission is to enable Alabama’s children and adults with disabilities to achieve their maximum potential.

The Disability Summit will be held today starting at 1 p.m. at Eastmont Baptist Church in Montgomery.