UCSF doctor plans floating clinic for states banning abortion, ready for legal battle

"The people who will be served by this will be the people that don't have the money, means or time to go elsewhere."

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Monday, July 11, 2022
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A Bay Area OB-GYN is serving up an innovative solution for a floating abortion clinic for some people living in states banning the procedure.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A Bay Area OB-GYN is serving up an innovative solution for some people living in states banning abortion.

"This is going to be a very large monetary effort that is funded by philanthropy and maybe a donated vessel," said Dr. Meg Autry, an OB-GYN and professor at UCSF.

"Basically a reproductive floating health clinic," said Dr. Autry, who's been conjuring the idea for years. "It would offer contraception, point of care, STI testing and treatment, we're hoping vaccination, as well as surgical terminations."

RELATED: Biden signs executive order on abortion access after Supreme Court overturns Roe

The plan is called PRROWESS: Protecting Reproductive Rights of Women Endangered by State Statutes. Home (prrowess.org). The urgency of plan being amplified in wake of the overturning of Roe V. Wade.

"The reason for this particular innovation is if you look at the Gulf every state that borders the Gulf is restrictive," said the doctor, explaining women are travelling far out state for services, meaning a floating clinic closer by could be a game changer. "The people who will be served by this will be the people that don't have the money, means or time to go elsewhere."

And, the doctor said, for the most part the plan is ready to set sail.

"We've done all the detailed research we can do and going forward it depends on the kind of vessel we can get."

RELATED: Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, transforming abortion rights in US

It will take an estimated $20 million dollars to get the clinic afloat, including retrofitting a boat - and initial costs of patient care.

"I think a somewhat optimistic but realistic timeline would be a year," said Dr. Autry. "And a dream would be six to eight months." When asked, what would have to happen for it to happen in six to eight months, she responded: "Someone would have to donate a vessel tomorrow."

And while she's ready to go, the doctor is also readying for a load of legal challenges.

"We have a legal team consisting of The Lawyering Project that basically fights for reproductive health and equitable care," she said, fulling expecting some rough waters ahead. https://lawyeringproject.org/

"We also have maritime lawyers, defense lawyers and we anticipate legal challenges throughout this entire journey."

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