Plans for Health Clinic in the Gulf of Mexico Are Afloat Following Roe v. Wade Decision
PRROWESS is asking for donations and support in creating a health clinic focused on people in the Gulf states who have difficulty accessing services.
Plans for a floating health clinic are in the works to help people get surgical abortions regardless of their home state’s abortion laws.
PRROWESS — Protecting Reproductive Rights of Women Endangered by State Statutes — is an organization that will offer reproductive health and social services, including contraception, STI screenings, and surgical abortion up to 14 weeks.
Because the Gulf of Mexico is federal waters, a doctor has plans to open PRROWESS there as a floating facility. This means their programming and procedures will not have state restrictions.
"This is all about bodily autonomy and choice, and so people have a right to be pregnant and also not to have a pregnancy," Dr. Meg Autry, of the University of California–San Francisco, told CBS San Francisco.
Autry, who is vice chair of graduate medical education and continuing medical education for the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at UCSF, wants to offer the services at either low or no cost.
According to the organization’s website, the clinic plans to serve patients who live primarily in Texas, Louisiana, and other states on the Gulf Coast. The goal is for the clinic to operate for about three weeks each month.
According to the organization, facilities like these have been used by the military and relief organizations for years, and patients are open to receiving health care in a floating clinic.
Due to state restrictions, it is often difficult for people to access care in Gulf states, and flying out of state is not always an option. Because of this, PRROWESS aims to offer faster services for those people.
"The vessel will be Coast Guard inspected and will have helicopter access for transport and emergencies," the organization says.
Once a patient is pre-screened, arrangements will be made to transport them to the floating clinic, the organization says.
The vessel that will be the floating health center is expected to cost at least $20 million. The organization is looking for donations that include a donated boat.
"People that care deeply about access to reproductive rights know that we have to be innovative and creative in order for patients to be able to continue to have access," Autry told the outlet.
"We know internationally that when access is limited or abortion is illegal, patients die."
Despite the imminent challenges, Autry hopes to open the floating clinic in about a year.
"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.
According to the organization, if the project is not successful, any remaining money will be distributed to other projects that are doing similar work of pushing for abortion access.
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