Planned Parenthood building large women's clinic in Alabama despite abortion law

Planned Parenthood is building a women's clinic in Alabama, despite its near-total ban on abortions and opposition from critics who plan to fight against its opening.

The proposed 10,000-square-foot facility is under construction in downtown Birmingham and is expected to be completed in November, right around the time the state's abortion law goes into effect. The law restricts abortions unless the mother's life is in danger. Lawmakers rejected exemptions for cases of rape and incest.

“We are a doctor that Birmingham has counted on for decades, and we are committed to continuing to provide that care,” Barbara Ann Luttrell, a spokeswoman for the Atlanta-based Planned Parenthood Southeast, told The Associated Press.

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A security guard closes a gate at the construction site of a new clinic that is being built by Planned Parenthood in Birmingham, Ala., on Thursday, June 13, 2019. The organization is working on the project despite a new state law that virtually bans abortion in Alabama. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves)

A security guard closes a gate at the construction site of a new clinic that is being built by Planned Parenthood in Birmingham, Ala., on Thursday, June 13, 2019. The organization is working on the project despite a new state law that virtually bans abortion in Alabama. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves)

Construction on the facility began in January. Luttrell said there was “absolutely no slowdown due to the legislative session” or the new law. The proposed clinic will offer abortions, birth control, cancer testing and screening for sexually transmitted diseases, she said.

She added that her hope is that courts will invalidate the abortion law by the time the facility opens. Groups that include Planned Parenthood are challenging the law in court.

Critics have vowed to oppose the clinic and will try to convince the Alabama Department of Public Health to deny it a license. They have also tried convincing construction firms to refuse work on the project.

“It was surprising when we found out that they were going to build this,” said Rev. Terry Gensemer of Metro Birmingham Life Forum. “My question is after the bill passage, why are they continuing to be so aggressive when the possibility exists that they won’t be able to be in business?”

Anti-abortion activist Rev. Terry Gensemer gestures toward a new clinic being constructed by Planned Parenthood in Birmingham, Ala., on Thursday, June 13, 2019. The organization is working on the project despite a new state law that virtually bans abortion in Alabama. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves)

Anti-abortion activist Rev. Terry Gensemer gestures toward a new clinic being constructed by Planned Parenthood in Birmingham, Ala., on Thursday, June 13, 2019. The organization is working on the project despite a new state law that virtually bans abortion in Alabama. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves)

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The clinic would replace a current Planned Parenthood clinic in Birmingham. According to opponents, abortions have not been performed regularly at that location since 2017. The nonprofit's clinic in Mobile is closed for renovation.

The only three abortion clinics operating in the state - Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, and Huntsville -- are not run by Planned Parenthood.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.