OB-GYN Wants to Launch an Abortion Boat to Bypass State Bans

The ship would float in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico, several nautical miles beyond the reach of despicable state abortion bans.

OB-GYN Wants to Launch an Abortion Boat to Bypass State Bans
Photo:jacobeukman (Getty Images)

As a pre-eminent abortion boat blog, Jezebel is pleased to learn that a U.S.-based abortion provider is working on launching one in the Gulf of Mexico.

California abortion provider and OB-GYN Meg Autry told NBC that she’d already been working on the concept, but the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade last month accelerated her plans.

The project is called PRROWESS, which stands for Protecting Reproductive Rights of Women Endangered by State Statutes, and it’s currently in the fundraising stage, Autry told the Associated Press.

“Part of the reason we’re working on this project so hard is because wealthy people in our country are always going to have access [to abortions],” Autry told NBC Bay Area. “So once again it’s a time now where poor, people of color, marginalized individuals, are gonna suffer—and by suffering I mean like lives lost.”

The ship would float in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico, several nautical miles out from the state coasts and beyond the reach of despicable state abortion bans. The Gulf States of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama currently have near-total abortion bans in effect. (Florida has a new 15-week ban, but state lawmakers may push to restrict access even further.)

The ship would offer first-trimester procedural abortions, birth control, and possibly treatment for sexually transmitted infections, according to Autry, who’s also a professor at the University of California San Francisco. Once patients pass a pre-screening process, PRROWESS would arrange their transportation to the ship.

Autry expects she’ll need to raise at least $20 million, including from philanthropic groups, to buy and retrofit a boat and pay for security, liability insurance, any legal challenges, and patient care. She hopes to offer care at low or no cost. They’re also open to a donated boat.

While the Biden administration has focused on ensuring the right to travel out of state for abortions, providers and advocates know that the trip isn’t realistic for people who may already have children, lack paid time off, or fear immigration checkpoints. “It is just phenomenally difficult to get to an access state, even if it’s paid for,” Autry told KCBS Radio.

Open abortion clinics are even farther away for people living in the southern parts of Gulf States, Autry said. “This is closer and faster access for some people, particularly for working people that live in the southernmost part of these states,” she told the AP.

The abortion boat concept was pioneered by Dutch doctor Rebecca Gomperts, whose organization, Women on Waves, provided first-trimester medication abortions to people in countries that banned abortion for 10 years. After changes in Dutch laws threatened the boat’s operation, Gomperts pivoted to prescribing abortion pills online, and eventually brought that service to the U.S. in October 2018 under the name Aid Access.

An abortion boat only works if there’s no federal abortion ban so, uh, let’s hope Democrats nominate someone good for 2024!

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