In an interview with the Associated Press (AP), California-based obstetrician-gynaecologist (OB-GYN)—a doctor who specialises in women’s health—Doctor Meg Autry urged people to think creatively when it comes to bypassing the US’ recent and highly controversial overturn of Roe v. Wade. Her solution for anyone in the southern states of the country looking to get an abortion without risking getting fined? The creation of a floating abortion clinic in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Moving in federal waters would mean that the boat clinic is out of reach of state laws, which would in turn allow it to offer first trimester surgical abortions and contraception as well as other care. “There’s been an assault on reproductive rights in our country and I’m a lifelong advocate for reproductive health and choice. We have to create options and be thoughtful and creative to help people in restrictive states get the health care they deserve,” Doctor Autry told the AP.
Though only in its fledgling phase, the nonprofit Protecting Reproductive Rights Of Women Endangered by State Statutes (PRROWESS) is currently working to raise money to bring it to fruition. Doctor Autry also added that PRROWESS’ legal team believes there are many federal waters where licensed providers could safely and legally provide abortions out of reach of state laws.
For women located in southern states where the procedures are now illegal, including Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, going to the coast and boarding a boat may be closer and easier than trying to travel to a state where abortion remains legal, she explained.
“It would also benefit Floridians seeking abortions after their state decided to ban the procedure after 15 weeks unless the life of the parent is in danger,” Futurism added when covering the matter.
PRROWESS is still trying to work out many of the details such as where the boat will launch and how women would get to the ship in the first place. That being said, and as promising as the concept sounds, such floating abortion clinics might run into some issues—given that the Biden White House has rebuffed the idea of using federal lands (and potentially waters by extension) to provide abortions because, according to press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, “it could actually put women and providers at risk” of prosecution.
In May 2022, Oklahoma State Representative Mickey Dollens invited his fellow lawmakers to co-author a bill which would give a mandatory vasectomy to every young man in the state. The sterilisation would only be reversed once each man could prove they were both financially and emotionally stable to parent a child.
If you think this idea sounds ridiculous, that’s because Dollens is only raising the bill to make a point that the state—along with the rest of the country—having such invasive control over a person’s body is ridiculous too.
Following the news of Friday 24 June that the Supreme Court made the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, effectively ruling that the constitution will not safeguard a woman’s right to an abortion, this invasive control is exactly what will happen to millions in the US.
Hence, performing an abortion became a criminal offence in Oklahoma on Friday. Anyone who gets the medical procedure done at any point after fertilisation in the state can now be subject to penalties ranging from two to five years in prison. The life of the mother is the lone exception for the state-specific law. A woman having an abortion would not be charged.
“Oklahoma’s law is very clear now,” state Attorney General John O’Connor said during a news conference. “Law enforcement is now activated in respect to any effort to aid, abet or solicit any abortions.”
A law that will further increase the potential penalties to ten years as well as a fine of $100,000 for performing an abortion is set to go into effect on 26 August. The only exceptions to Oklahoma’s new abortion laws are in the case of rape or incest, only if they have been reported to the authorities.
Considering the introduction of legislation to force men into having vasectomies as early as next year, Dollens suggested to Republicans, who thought he was being ‘crazy’, that now “maybe you understand how 50 per cent of Oklahomans feel.”
Though Republicans have famously argued that there is “nothing higher or more critical than the defence of innocent, unborn life,” Dollens has pointed out that instead this is simply a massive overturning of rights and freedoms that women in the US have enjoyed for almost 50 years.
Understandably, the Supreme Court’s verdict on Roe v. Wade has attracted widespread condemnation, with large protests in the US and international figures speaking out against the ruling. As the verdict from the conservative-dominated court is expected to lead individual states to enforce abortion bans, women all over the country have vowed to go on a ‘sex strike’ against men.
Protests have been held across the US and outside American consulates abroad. President Joe Biden even called the overturning of Roe v. Wade “a sad day for the court and for the country.” He encouraged voters to take their anger at the Supreme Court’s decision and channel it against the Republicans in the midterm elections due to be held in November 2022.
Meanwhile, Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas suggested gay marriage could be the next thing overturned…