“We Can’t Go Away” Alabama Clinic Continues to Provide Critical Care Post-Roe

Photo: West Alabama Women’s Center, the day they re-opened after the passage of Dobbs.

There haven’t been any active abortion clinics in Alabama since June 24, 2022. Alabama is a trigger state so a near-total abortion ban went into effect hours after the reversal of Roe v. Wade, forcing Alabama’s three independent abortion providers to close their doors or reinvent themselves. Reproductive health clinic West Alabama Women’s Center is fighting hard to do the latter. 

We Will Not Close Our Doors

The abortion clinics that remain in the U.S. post-Roe are facing hard decisions. Some are relocating to states with fewer restrictions. Some have no other choice but to shut down completely. Last year Reproductive Health Services of Montgomery, the longest-standing abortion provider in the state, closed down. Five days after the passage of Dobbs, West Alabama Women’s Center also stopped seeing patients, but only temporarily. They reopened again in July of 2022, this time as a nonprofit full-spectrum reproductive-health center dedicated to meeting the needs of the uninsured and underinsured in West Alabama. They know that people, especially poor and Black and Brown Alabamans, will need access to reproductive care more than ever now that Roe is gone.

“The truth is, we can’t go away. While we can no longer provide elective abortions, we need to be here for the newly pregnant single mom who came to us for prenatal care because no doctor would see her until her Medicaid approval came through. We need to be here for the patient with the ectopic pregnancy who went to the local hospital only to find out they didn’t have methotrexate in stock to terminate that unviable pregnancy. We need to be here for every patient we have seen miscarrying who was turned away by their hospitals even before abortion was illegal here, even before an accusation of ‘illegal abortion’ meant the end of a medical professional’s career at best or a life in prison at worst.” – Robin Marty, Director of Operations at West Alabama Women’s Center, writes in an article for Time

Not only is Alabama’s maternal health care in crisis – they have the third highest maternal mortality rate and the fifth highest infant death rate in the nation – their officials are increasingly criminalizing people who have unviable birth outcomes. Just last week Representative Ernie Yarbrough, R-Trinity, announced plans to include abortion under Alabama homicide law. Alabama’s Attorney General’s Office recently made a statement saying they consider the use of medicated abortion to violate Alabmama’s chemical endangerment statute, a felony violation. Regardless of if they’ve actually had an abortion, people who experience pregnancy complications in Alabama such as bleeding or a miscarriage and seek medical help at a hospital could face a legal investigation, arrest, even life in jail. 

In this hostile environment, West Alabama Women’s Center has pledged to be a safe medical resource for all pregnant people. They accept all patients regardless of their insurance status and ability to pay, they provide care regardless of medical history, and they do not turn patients who have had an abortion and need follow-up care away or over to the police. They are also helping to fill the gaps in Alabama’s maternal care infrastructure and providing preventative services that will save patients from long-term health issues down the road.

Graphic: West Alabama Women’s Center announces their expanded coverage following the passage of Dobbs.

Funnel Resources to Abortion-Hostile States    

West Alabama Women’s Center and other reproductive justice organizations in abortion-hostile states are providing desperately needed services and safe havens for birthing people. Yet West Alabama Women’s Center fights every day to keep their lights on. WDN’s Abortion Bridge Collaborative Fund’s grant, in addition to $200,000 in individual donations, saved the clinic from closure for now. But they need individual and collective donors to support their work as a necessary part of the reproductive health landscape, just as we support reproductive health infrastructure in states where abortion is legal

“Once clinics like ours are gone, there will truly be no safe haven for abortion access in the South, a vast area of the country with a scarcity of general, let alone reproductive, health care.” – Robin Marty, Director of Operations at West Alabama Women’s Center

West Alabama Women’s Center was one of our Abortion Bridge Collaborative Fund’s (ABC Fund) first grants. Our grantmaking is decided by an incredible powerhouse of movement leaders, grassroots activists, academics, and practitioners representing all regions of the U.S. Because of this, we are able to bridge funds to reproductive justice organizations that are often overlooked by philanthropy and the larger donor community but are providing critical resources to their communities. Too often, these organizations are women, nonbinary, or BIPOC-led organizations like West Alabama Women’s Center. 

As attacks on abortion, reproductive health, and reproductive freedom only continue to mount, so much is at stake. The majority of us want an America with abortion access and community-centered organizations like West Alabama Women’s Center are necessary to help us get there. The ABC Fund will do all we can to support the organizations doing this work.

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