As states like Texas, Ohio, and now Mississippi attempt to temporarily ban abortion care during the covid-19 outbreak under the misleading guise of public health, at least one Republican-led state with restrictive abortion laws is doing the opposite: keeping its abortion clinics open.
On March 19, Alabama’s Republican Governor Kay Ivey issued an order that delayed “all elective dental and medical procedures.” This apparently does not include abortions, according to Arrol Sheehan of the state’s Department of Public Health. “Even in Jefferson County, where ‘non-essential’ businesses have been ordered closed, clinics in general are still open as essential,” Sheehan told AL.com. (It should be noted that none of the state’s three abortion clinics are in Jefferson County, whose biggest city is Birmingham.)
This is good news not only for people seeking abortions in the state but throughout the Gulf Coast—due to efforts by Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the state’s Attorney General Ken Paxton to ban abortion care during the pandemic, abortion clinics in Alabama like the West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa are already receiving an increase in the number of calls from people in Texas.
As Chad Jackson, the office manager at the West Alabama Women’s Center, put it to AL.com, “We know that if women don’t receive this procedure legally, they will search out ways to have a termination.” Jackson added, “And what’s frightening is we know that those places lead to women trying to do it themselves at homes.”
In response to the covid-19 epidemic, the Yellowhammer Fund is also offering free emergency contraception via mail to people living in Alabama, Mississippi, and the Florida panhandle.