Clinic consultation

A closed abortion clinic is still working to serve the community

Abortions stopped at Reproductive Health Services, a Montgomery clinic that was one of only three in the state offering abortions. But the work continues.

Abortions stopped on June 24, when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, laying the groundwork for states to decide what restrictions will be placed on abortion. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall that day ordered clinics to stop offering abortions.

In 2019, Alabama lawmakers passed one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, allowing the procedure to be performed only if the mother’s life is threatened.

Related News:The Roe v. Supreme Court Wade Ends Legal Abortion Services in Alabama

“The federal district court and plaintiffs agreed that there was no reason to keep the law duly enacted in light of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. “, Marshall said that day. “Thus, Alabama’s Legislative Elective Abortions, a felony, is now enforceable. Anyone who takes the life of a child in violation of the law will be prosecuted, with penalties ranging from 10 to 99 years for abortion providers. »

Reproductive Health Services Building on South Perry Street in Montgomery, Ala., Friday, June 24, 2022.

No more news:New technology: 360-degree body cameras could be the future of law enforcement

The Montgomery clinic performed abortions one day a week since the doctors who worked there came from out of state, said Mia Raven, media liaison for the clinic. Raven is also the executive director of POWER (People Organizing for Women’s Empowerment and Rights) House, which operated in conjunction with the clinic.

“We still have people in cars,” she said. “We tell them where abortions are legal. We have to be very careful what we say, under Alabama law; we’re in uncharted territory.

Mia Raven of the Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates uses her phone to take pictures during a public hearing on HB 56, "Protection of Religious Freedom in Marriage Act"held in 2015 before the Health and Human Services Subcommittee at the Alabama State House in Montgomery.

“We don’t want to be accused of aiding and abetting abortion. So we can’t give directions to abortion clinics in other states; we can’t offer money for travel.”

The clinic has received legal advice from “several” attorneys about what information it may provide in violation of the law, Raven said. Previous laws banning abortions in the state had language prohibiting aiding and abetting the procedure.

“We’re just trying to be safe until [attorney general] Marshall makes his decision on what complicity is,” she said.

No more news:Alabama attorney general uses Dobbs ruling to defend ban on transgender medicine

The clinic had five full-time employees and eight part-time employees.

POWER House is still in business, offering free pregnancy tests, Plan B emergency contraceptives, condoms, and other health-related items.

“We’re still here, doing what we can,” Raven said. “We always want to serve.”

Abortions likely won’t be offered at the clinic under Alabama’s 2019 law.

“We are not a hospital setting,” she said. “We do not meet the requirements of Alabama law.”

Raven said the only way for abortion services to return to Alabama, as they were allowed before the June 24 ruling, would be through the passage of a federal law protecting the procedure nationwide. And that, she says, is a long shot.

“Unless the midterm elections give us a massive, unexpected gift, I don’t know how that will happen,” she said of the upcoming general election in November. “Southern states will never support a federal law, because the districts have been gerrymanders to a point where it’s almost impossible.”

Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Marty Roney at mroney@gannett.com.