A California doctor wants to create a floating abortion clinic in the Gulf of Mexico so that women in southern states can evade pro-life laws and obtain abortions at sea.
Dr. Meg Autry, an obstetrician and gynecologist with the University of California San Francisco, wants to set up an abortion clinic aboard a ship in federal waters, outside the jurisdiction of state laws banning abortion, where pregnant women can obtain first-trimester surgical abortions, contraception, and other medical care.
She has started a nonprofit group called PRROWESS — “Protecting Reproductive Rights Of Women Endangered by State Statutes” — to raise funds for her proposal, the Associated Press reports.
“There’s been an assault on reproductive rights in our country and I’m a lifelong advocate for reproductive health and choice. We have to create options and be thoughtful and creative to help people in restrictive states get the health care they deserve,” Autry said.
Her proposal is the latest scheme to undermine anti-abortion laws after the Supreme Court ruled that states have the power to regulate abortion, overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas have had abortion bans or restrictions take effect immediately after the court’s decision. A 15-week abortion ban with exceptions for medical emergencies has similarly taken effect in Florida, though it was initially challenged in state court.
Autry told the Associated Press that PRROWESS’ legal counsel believes there is a large area of federal waters where it would be legal to provide abortions outside the reach of state laws. She said that women in southern states may have an easier time boarding a boat and sailing to the floating abortion mill than traveling to another state where abortions are legal.
“This is closer and faster access for some people, particularly for working people that live in the southernmost part of these states,” she said.
Autry said that her organization is still determining where the clinic will launch and how women will get to the ship.
Democratic lawmakers have also pushed for the Biden administration to open up abortion clinics on federal lands to circumvent state abortion restrictions.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Occasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) have separately suggested that the federal government could set up clinics in national parks where women could obtain abortions at taxpayer expense.
However, Vice President Kamala Harris shot down the idea of using federal lands for abortions in an interview in June. Instead, President Joe Biden signed an executive order last week directing his administration to protect access to self-administered abortion pills and guarantee the right of women to travel seeking abortions, among other actions.