Calif. Abortion Doctor’s Plan to Use Floating Abortion Clinic to Skirt Bans Isn’t New – to Europe

A California abortion doctor planning to use a floating abortion clinic to provide abortions to residents of states where the procedure is banned – but, while the concept is being touted as new to the U.S., another organization has been performing abortions at-sea for more than two decades.

In the wake of the Supreme Court decision overturning the national right to abortion provided by Roe v. Wade, Dr. Meg Autry is fundraising for a project to circumvent state bans by providing abortions on a floating abortion boat, AP explains:

“A California doctor is proposing a floating abortion clinic in the Gulf of Mexico as a way to maintain access for people in southern states where abortion bans have been enacted.

“The idea is to provide a clinic aboard a ship in federal waters, and out of reach of state laws, that would offer first trimester surgical abortions, contraception and other care, said Dr. Meg Autry, an obstetrician and gynecologist and a professor at the University of California San Francisco.”

Dr. Autry isn’t the first to come up with the idea of using floating abortion clinics to skirt abortion laws, however.

In 1999, Dr. Rebecca Gomperts founded Women on Waves, which helps abortion-seekers in Europe defy abortion bans.

Today, Women on Waves doesn’t just use floating abortion clinics, it also employs the latest technology – using abortion drones and abortion robots to do its bidding. In 2017, the group even sent an abortion ship to Mexico.


In the U.S., Dr. Autry’s abortion boat PRROWESS project would serve abortion-seekers in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Florida, which have all banned or limited abortion, by transporting them into federal waters, nine nautical miles from the coast of Texas, and three nautical miles from the coasts of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. San Francisco’s KCBS reports:  

The “PRROWESS” – which stands for ‘Protecting Reproductive Rights Of Women Endangered by State Statutes’ – will reside in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico, meaning it will not be subject to states’ abortion restrictions because there is no federal law outlawing abortion.”

“The ‘PRROWESS’ plans to offer surgical abortions at 14 weeks, contraception and, ‘potentially, vaccination and point-of-care testing for sexually transmitted infections and treatment for that,’ according to Autry. Patients would have ‘several options’ of transport to the ‘PRROWESS’ in federal waters.”

“It is my life’s work,” Dr. Autry told NBC Bay Area, which reports that “Autry has performed abortions for decades and refers to herself as ‘a lifelong educator, a lifelong career abortion advocate.’”

Autry is seeking donations of at least $20 million – and the boat – CBS News reports, noting that the abortion doctor is facing multiple legal hurdles:

“The cost is expected to be at least $20 million. Dr. Autry said PRROWESS is looking for donations, ideally a donated boat. She knows that pulling this off won’t be easy. The group is already working with a team of attorneys.

“’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,’” said Dr. Autry. 

While Dr. Autry’s abortion boat will, reported, provide only first trimester abortions, her published works include “A comparison of medical induction and dilation and evacuation for second-trimester abortion.”

Autry says it’ll be at least a year before her floating abortion clinic will be able to set sail.


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