'Floating' clinic to offer low-cost abortions in Gulf of Mexico to skirt state laws post Roe

The Gulf of Mexico shimmers at sunset.
The Gulf of Mexico shimmers at sunset. | Unsplash/Ryan Spaulding

A Northern California physician plans to launch a "floating" health clinic that will offer abortion services to residents in states where the procedure is now illegal.

Dr. Meg Autry, a San Francisco-based obstetrician/gynecologist, is hoping to raise $20 million for a PRROWESS (Protecting Reproductive Rights of Women Endangered by State Statutes) clinic, according to NBC Bay Area.

With a tagline on the website that reads "Respect Existence or Expect Resistance," PRROWESS is described as a "solution for individuals seeking reproductive health care and surgical abortion where it is illegal or impossible" in states such as Texas, Alabama and Mississippi.

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The floating clinic is expected to operate about three weeks out of every month in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico, skirting any state restrictions or bans on abortion.

Billed as a "comprehensive floating reproductive health clinic," PRROWESS will offer abortions up to 14 weeks and "emergency contraception" — often referred to as the "morning-after pill." The program will offer on-site testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.

Social services, including legal aid, will also be available, according to the website.

Along with a team of licensed healthcare providers, the ship will be operated by an "experienced captain and crew" and will be Coast Guard inspected with helicopter access for transport. 

Several options will be provided for patient transport to the vessel.

Calling first trimester abortions "incredibly safe," the website states that the clinic has plans in place for abortion-related emergency care and "transport to land facilities will occur via water shuttle or helicopter depending on the urgency" if needed. 

While PRROWESS is expected to offer low or no-cost services "depending on need," the website states that "remaining funds will be distributed to other projects addressing access to abortion" if the project is abandoned for lack of funding or other reasons.

Autry, also a University of California San Francisco professor of obstetrics and gynecology, told KCBS Radio that the U.S. Supreme Court's reversal of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision inspired her to put the plan into action.

Since the Supreme Court's June 24 ruling upholding Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban that found that the U.S. Constitution doesn't confer a right to abortion, several states have enacted bans or restrictions on abortions. 

While southern states have some of the heaviest restrictions on abortion, Gulf states like Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas have laws that almost entirely ban abortion or will ban abortion 30 days after the court's ruling. Florida law bans abortions after 15 weeks of gestation. 

In Mississippi, the state's lone abortion clinic recently closed as a judge rejected a request to block the state's trigger law instituting a near-total ban on abortion following the court's ruling. 

In Louisiana, a judge temporarily blocked the state from enforcing its near-total ban on abortion.   

"I think that … the people that care deeply about access and bodily autonomy are willing to put themselves at risk, but also to be innovative and creative," Autry was quoted as saying.

"Because we're going to solve this. This is not OK."

No official launch date has been announced for the PRROWESS project.

The Christian Post's request for comment from Autry was not immediately returned. A UCSF spokesperson told CP the project is an "independent project … not sponsored by UCSF."

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