A California doctor is proposing a floating abortion clinic in the Gulf of Mexico as a way to maintain access for people in southern states where abortion bans have been enacted.
The idea is to provide a clinic aboard a ship in federal waters, and beyond the reach of state law, that would offer first-trimester surgical abortions, contraception and other care, said the Dr. Meg Autry, obstetrician and gynecologist and university professor. University of California at San Francisco.
“There has been an attack on reproductive rights in our country and I have been an advocate for reproductive health and choice forever. We need to create options and be thoughtful and creative in helping people living in restrictive states get the health care they deserve,” she told The Associated Press.
Dr. Meg Autry a Bay Area OB-GYN is organizing an effort to bring abortion services and reproductive health care to several southern states bordering the Gulf of Mexico via a ship sailing through federal waters
The vessel would be based nine miles off the coast of Texas and three off the coast of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, able to evade those states’ restrictions.
Autry said the idea is only at the fundraising stage through the non-profit organization, ‘PROVENCE’ – abbreviation of “To protect the reproductive rights of women threatened by the laws of the State”.
The proposal comes as access to abortion in the southern United States was rapidly restricted after the United States Supreme Court returned the issue of abortion to the states.
Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas saw abortion bans go into effect.
A Florida law, which is in effect after a legal back-and-forth, prohibits abortions after 15 weeks, with exceptions if the procedure is necessary to save a life, prevent serious injury or if the fetus has a life-threatening abnormality. .
USAFA Bay Area OB-GYN female soldiers organize an effort to bring abortion services and reproductive health care to several southern states bordering the Gulf of Mexico via a ship sailing through federal waters
Autry said his legal team believes there is a federal stretch of water where licensed providers could safely and legally provide abortions beyond the reach of state laws.
For women in southern states where abortion is banned, getting to the coast and boarding a boat may be closer and easier than trying to get to a state where abortion remains legal. , she said.
“It’s closer and faster access for some people, especially workers who live in the southernmost part of these states,” she said.
Autry said they are still trying to work out many details, such as where the boat will launch and how the women will get to the ship.
Autry has performed abortions for decades and describes herself as “a lifelong educator, career-long abortion advocate.”
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“It’s my life’s work,” she told NBC News.
“Part of the reason we are working so hard on this project is that the wealthy in our country will still have access [to abortions]so again, this is a time when poor people, people of color, marginalized people are going to suffer – and by suffering, I mean like lives lost,’ Autry said.
“The project is philanthropically funded and patient care is needs-based, so most individuals will pay little or nothing for services,” Autry explained.
Autry’s organization is still fundraising to secure a ship and fit it out for medical purposes. She is also waiting state legal challenges at every stage of the process.
Some states have issued orders saying they will not cooperate with other states’ investigations of people seeking abortions or health care providers who perform them.
Stacy Cross, president of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, which offers services in California and Nevada, was not surprised to learn that health care providers were planning to set up services on the seas.
Cross said organizations that provide abortions prepared for the cancellation of Roe V Wade.
“Over the years we’ve talked about things like boats on federal waters beyond the 5 mile line.
“It’s just that it’s a testament to the times that we’re in, because it’s really awful that we have to think about these things in the United States of America, how to keep people safe,” Cross said.