MONTGOMERY — An amended health care visitation rights bill introduced by State Sen. Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman) and State Rep. Debbie Wood (R-Valley) passed the Senate unanimously on Tuesday.

The amended bill passed the House last week and now heads to Gov. Kay Ivey for her signature. 

Gudger said in an interview on Tuesday the legislation is "one of those things where you know it is the right thing for all of Alabama." 

"Everyone in Alabama has a story of their own of not being able to see someone in a health care facility," Gudger said. "I'm thankful that the process worked the way it was supposed to, which is the stakeholders came to the table (and) the people that this affects were at the table. Everybody was represented, and in the end, everybody gave in a little bit to make sure that we have the best bill for the state of Alabama."

The Senate already passed the legislation earlier in the session, but it was amended by the House last week to add clergy to have expanded visitation rights in healthcare facilities in Alabama. 

"I think it's a positive move that we did to concur with that also," Gudger said.

The bill would ensure the right to visit anyone in a healthcare facility during visiting hours without having to show proof of vaccination and allow "consensual physical contact between a visitor and a resident, client, or patient." The legislation would also "require healthcare facilities to allow visitors for residents, clients, or patients in certain situations, including end-of-life scenarios; childbirth; pediatric care; and for those who are having adjustment issues, making a major medical decision, experiencing emotional distress or grief, or struggling to eat, drink, or speak in certain situations."

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