A California doctor is organizing and fundraising for an offshore, floating abortion clinic in the Gulf of Mexico. The clinic boat would be positioned in federal waters in order to bypass state abortion bans.
First reported by KCBS, the project, Protecting Reproductive Rights of Women Endangered by State Statutes (PRROWESS), is being led by Dr. Meg Autry, an OB-GYN and professor at the University of California, San Francisco.
According to the project’s FAQs page: “PRROWESS will be a comprehensive floating reproductive health clinic offering surgical abortions up to 14 weeks and contraception including emergency contraception, on site testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), STI treatment, and vaccination. In addition, some social services will be available including social work and legal aid.”
Autry told NBC Bay Area News in an interview that she has been working on the idea for quite some time and planning accelerated after last month’s Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade. The clinic would primarily serve women from southern states, such as Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Texas. After Roe was overturned, all four states enacted restrictions on abortion.
The project intends to operate “for approximately 3 weeks out of each month, with flexibility built in depending on demand, weather conditions, and vessel maintenance.” They also state their goal to offer care “at little to no cost to the patient, depending on need.”
Because the vessel is expected to cost at least $20 million, the organization is seeking donations. If the project fails, all remaining funds “will be distributed to other projects addressing access to abortion.”
While Autry hopes to open the clinic by next year, she acknowledged that the project is likely to face many challenges. “There’s operational, logistics, there’s the whole idea of maritime law and then there’s obviously security, there’s liability, I mean the challenges are countless,” Autry said.
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