ORANGE BEACH — One woman's dream of building a floating abortion facility off the Gulf of Mexico is having trouble becoming a reality due to a lack of funding.
California doctor Meg Autry caused a stir following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, saying she was raising money to fashion a ship into an offshore clinic to provide surgical abortions, contraception and other services. The idea was to bypass state laws by performing abortions for women up to 16 weeks pregnant for little to no cost to the patient.
"There's been an assault on reproductive rights in our country, and I'm a lifelong advocate for reproductive health and choice," she told the Associated Press last year. "We have to create options and be thoughtful and creative to help people in restrictive states get the health care they deserve."
However, one year later, Autry's nonprofit PRROWESS — short for Protecting Reproductive Rights Of Women Endangered by State Statutes — has failed to launch. She told 1819 News the money wasn't there.
"We are still diligently working on fundraising," said Autry. "We need around $10 to 12 million to get a vessel and retrofit and be operational. We are not close to that."
Autry said large foundations have been unwilling to donate to the fund because of the risks involved in such an operation. There are no clear plans for getting the patients to the ship or where it would dock.
"While individuals in need are able to access funding for surgical terminations in less-restrictive states, wait times are prohibitive, and we have research that low-income patients cannot afford the time away even if it is funded," she added.
Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon said last year he did not want to see the ship in operation. He added it wouldn't be leaving from Alabama's coast if he had anything to do with it. Although he is now focusing on other issues, he said he hadn't heard anything about plans for the ship.
"Hopefully it's something we don't have to worry about," Kennon told 1819 News. "It's to the point that there's so much out there, I have decided I have to narrow my focus because if I don't, I'm going to drive myself nuts."
Autry said the organization had raised funds from small donors. If the abortion ship never comes to fruition, those funds will be "distributed to other projects addressing access to abortion," according to the PRROWESS website.
To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email email@example.com.
Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.