The
Assault
on
Abortion
in
Alabama

2.5 million women,
5 clinics

In the 80s and 90s there were over a dozen abortion clinics in the state of Alabama. Now there are only five. Just two of these clinics can care for patients who have advanced beyond the first trimester and one clinic, in Mobile, offers abortions only up to 9 weeks gestation.

It’s been extremely tough for the remaining five clinics. Four out of the five clinics are operating only because of intervention by the courts and the most active clinic in the state, in Tuscaloosa, closed for seven months this year following a doctor's retirement. Meanwhile, a 48-hour waiting period that went into effect in 2014 requires two in-person clinic visits before an abortion can be obtained. For many, that means either traveling hundreds of miles from their homes and staying overnight for two nights or making the hours-long trip more than once.

Playing with Politics: The Price Women Pay to End a Pregnancy

Alabama's 48-hour-law means that women who don't live near a clinic have two options to accomplish the two separate mandatory clinic visits required by law to terminate a pregnancy: They can travel and stay two nights in a hotel or they can drive there and back in a single day. Twice. Let's say a woman living in Selma, which has no licensed abortion provider, needs to terminate her pregnancy. Where should she go? The options below help to illustrate the considerable costs she'll have to bear.

From Selma to...

Selma to Mobile

The Mobile clinic only does abortions at 9 weeks or earlier.

One-way travel

174
miles

2 hours
40 minutes

Cost of making one trip and staying in a hotel

$147

5 hours
30 minutes

Cost of making two trips

$54

11 hours

Selma to Huntsville

The Huntsville clinic only does abortions at 20 weeks or earlier.

One-way travel

186
miles

3 hours

Cost of making one trip and staying in a hotel

$150

6 hours

Cost of making two trips

$60

12 hours

Selma to Tuscaloosa

The Tuscaloosa clinic only does abortions at 20 weeks or earlier.

One-way travel

77
miles

1 hour
30 minutes

Cost of making one trip and staying in a hotel

$132

3 hours

Cost of making two trips

$24

6 hours

Selma to Birmingham

The Birmingham clinic only does abortions at 14 weeks or earlier.

One-way travel

94
miles

1 hour
42 minutes

Cost of making one trip and staying in a hotel

$135

3 hours
30 minutes

Cost of making two trips

$30

7 hours

Selma to Montgomery

The Montgomery clinic only does abortions at 14 weeks or earlier.

One-way travel

50
miles

53 minutes

Cost of making one trip and staying in a hotel

$128

1 hour
45 minutes

Cost of making two trips

$16

3 hours
30 minutes

What Remains: Snapshots and Stories from Alabama's Last Five Abortion Clinics

Abortion supporters and opponents sincerely believe they are doing what's best for those facing unwanted pregnancies. For clinic owners, doctors and volunteers, keeping the doors open and abortion accessible means protecting pregnant women's futures and ensuring their safety. For anti-abortion activists, picketing and shuttering clinics keeps patients safe from what the activists believe are the physical and emotional dangers inflicted by terminating a pregnancy. Below, we take a deeper look at the five clinics remaining in Alabama and speak to individuals on both sides of the ideological divide.

1. Huntsville

Alabama Women’s Center in Huntsville — the one clinic in Alabma with a doctor who has admitting privileges at a local hospital — is the only abortion clinic in the northern part of the state. Located in a city with approximately 186,000 people, it is also perhaps the most aggressively targeted of all abortion clinics in Alabama. Unable to meet the requirements of a law that mandated certain building requirements for licensed abortion providers, its owner was forced to relinquish his license to the clinic and purchase the building owned by one of his doctors instead. Now open again after a relicensing process that took 5 months, both the new clinic and the former building – which is now home to one of the doctors’ private OB-GYN practice – are the site of constant protests by anti-abortion activists. Though a new bill targeting the clinic because of its proximity to an elementary school failed to pass in the state legislature, abortion rights supporters fear it will return.

Alabama Women’s Center offers abortions until 20 weeks.

Dalton Johnson

Owner, Alabama Women’s Center

"It's scary that people are watching us this hard."
"They call themselves Christians, but they aren't following a Christian path."

Dr. Yashica Robinson

Medical doctor

"Abortion is part of the complete spectrum of reproductive health services."
"I was a teen mom myself... For the next young woman who finds herself in my shoes, I want to make sure that she has the option to make that decision."

Rev. James Henderson

Anti-abortion activist

"It's psychological warfare."
"These folks keep making me look I'm 10 feet tall."
"I'm surprised at how many people of the really radical left actually believe its a God-given right. It's not."
"If it's run the way the abortion industry wants it run, they won't allow us access, but we'll be there anyway."

2. Tuscaloosa

The population of Tuscaloosa is about 95,000 people, but because West Alabama Women’s Center is one of just two clinics in Alabama offering second trimester abortion services, by 2013 it was providing 40 percent of all abortions in the state. When its doctor retired December 31, 2014, the clinic had to stop offering abortions because a new provider, Dr. Willie Parker, was not able to get the local hospital admitting privileges the state began to require in 2013. After over six months of refusals from local doctors who were asked to work with Dr. Parker as backup physicians, the clinic sued the state in mid July in order to block it from enforcing the admitting privileges law. A federal judge agreed, and the clinic reopened in August of 2015.

West Alabama Women’s Center is the only abortion clinic in western Alabama and serves large portions of Mississippi (which has only one clinic) as well. It performs abortions up to 20 weeks.

Gloria Gray

Owner, West Alabama Women’s Center

"Over 80% of our patients are at the poverty level or below the poverty level, so they don't have the funds for this."
"She said, "I don't know what I'm going to do... but if I have to stick a knife in my stomach, I will have an abortion."
"All it's doing is making it harder for her to have access to a safe and legal abortion."

Genevieve Aucoin

Pro-life activist, Bama Students for Life

"We know that the no-show rate for abortion appointments is higher when we are out there, so even though we may only talk to a handful of women each day, the impact that we are making may be much greater if people are changing their minds before they even pull up."
"Adoption is also a wonderful option. Many adoption agencies or adoptive parents will pay for the costs associated with the pregnancy."
"We are protecting pre-born children from destruction and ensuring that women can get the healthcare they desreve from more reputable facilities that are not biased toward abortion."

3. Mobile

Mobile, with a population of about 195,000 residents, is tucked deep in the southwest corner of the state. The Planned Parenthood Mobile Health Center is an anomaly in the abortion services scene: although the clinic does both medication and vacuum aspiration abortions, the procedures will only be performed on pregnancies through nine weeks gestation. With just three patient days a week, and a mandatory 48 hour waiting period that requires two trips into a clinic, getting an abortion in such a small window is often impossible. Still, when the alternative is traveling out of state or nearly three hours up to Montgomery, the center is an option that many pregnant people take advantage of.

Planned Parenthood Mobile Health Center is currently the only abortion provider in southern Alabama, and offers abortions through 9 weeks.

LaDonna Ellis

Director of Organizing for Planned Parenthood Southeast, Organizer for Mobile, Alabama

"We have a lot of individuals that come from out of town."
"Religion plays a large role in a lot of individuals' lives."
"Different barriers set up impact these women's ability to have access to these safe and legal services."

4. Birmingham

Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama, with a population of over 212,000. Until the spring of 2012 it had at least two clinics. By spring of 2014 it had none. In 1998, New Woman All Women Health Care clinic was bombed by extremist Eric Rudolph, a blast that killed an off-duty police officer named Robert Sanderson and severely wounded nurse Emily Lyons. The clinic, which reopened shortly after the bombing, later lost its license in the spring of 2012 after a board of health investigation initiated by local anti-abortion activists. Though New Woman All Women opened briefly again a year later as a private practice, it was once again shuttered by the state in 2013 for allegedly providing more terminations per month than allowed by a private physician and operating as an unlicensed abortion provider.

By 2013, Planned Parenthood’s Birmingham Health Center was the only operational abortion clinic in Birmingham. Then it closed suddenly in December of 2013 after staff members were allegedly caught selling an abortion medication to a person in the parking lot, leaving the largest city in the state with no abortion providers. The affiliate reopened in October of 2014 after a staffing overhaul and other issues were addressed.

Planned Parenthood Birmingham Health Center is currently the only operating clinic in Birmingham, and offers abortions through 14 weeks gestation.

Catherine Davis

President, The Restoration Project, Member of the National Black Pro-Life Coalition, Georgia

"The black community is not aware of all of the issues that are plaguing these centers."

5. Montgomery

Montgomery, with a population of about 200,000 residents, is the capital of Alabama and its Reproductive Health Services – Montgomery’s only clinic – is the longest existing abortion clinic in the state. It is also the site of near-daily protests from local anti-abortion activists, a situation that became even more pronounced in July of 2015, when the national anti-abortion extremist group known as Operation Save America (OSA) – an offshoot of the 80’s and 90’s group Operation Rescue – gathered in the city. For a week, the clinic worked with members of the Feminist Majority and National Abortion Federation to keep the doors open for patients, while protesters with graphic signs and loud, impassioned pleas implored patients to change their minds and abortion supporters to get right with the Lord or risk damnation.

Alabama and Reproductive Health Services is the only clinic in Montgomery, and provides abortions until 14 weeks.

June Ayers

Owner, Reproductive Health Services

"Everyday I'll keep my doors open so I can do good for that one woman that needs me more than anyone else that comes in that day."
"It makes no difference what a woman does. By society, she's failed."

Madison Clark

Clinic escort

"They say things like, "You don't feel like black lives really matter.""
"We live in a country where the socioeconomic structure is against African Americans."

Edith Theogene

National Campus Organizer, Feminist Majority Foundation

"They are misconstruing the broken systems that we live in."
"People want their reproductive rights and believe in equality."

David Day

Anti-abortion activist

"God tells us to defend the weak and the fatherless."
"I know some of the women are terrified."

Jasmine Hill

Anti-abortion activist with Operation Save America

"People don't understand the dangers of it."
"Why would you stop this child from its God-given potential?"

Jo Scott & Leslie Hanks

Anti-Abortion Activists, Operation Save America

"We're not extremists, we're grandmothers."
"You've made a law, a completely and totally immoral law."

Note: Because of a history of violence against abortion providers, in order to protect Dr. Robinson's safety, Fusion has agreed not to use an image of the doctor.