In March 2019, a billboard along Interstate 55 in Illinois advertised the state as a safe space for women seeking abortions. The billboard read “Welcome to Illinois, where you can get a safe, legal abortion.” It’s an advertisement for the Hope Clinic for Women, an abortion clinic in Granite City. The billboard can also be seen from I-64.
Are we entering the age of abortion tourism? It’s beginning to sound as though this is a trend developing in response to the passage of laws recently in states that are tightening state abortion laws. Abortion is legal in all 50 states, though some states are passing laws meant to challenge Roe v Wade in court. Pro-abortion states are reaching out to women and inviting them to have an abortion by traveling out of state to one with fewer restrictions.
The Hope Clinic’s executive director and physician, Erin King, said when the clinic’s team heard, through news and social media, about a billboard with similar wording in Colorado, they sympathized with the message.
“Here we are in a state where patients can get access to legal, safe reproductive health care, when states right next door don’t have the same access,” King said. “We wanted to tell patients they are welcome here and providers will get you the help you’re looking for.”
King passes along the trope that more restrictions on abortion limit access to contraception and reproductive health care. Unless a woman is using abortion as a regular method of birth control, though, that argument makes no sense. Pro-abortion women often conflate abortion with reproductive health care, but it is not common that danger to the life of the mother is used as an excuse to end the life of an unborn child. King is proud that the abortion clinic’s parking lot includes cars with license plates from other states, like Kentucky and Georgia but mostly from Missouri.
“Sadly states around us have become more restrictive in providing access to contraception and reproductive health care, and luckily Illinois can provide that for them,” she said. “We have people who live here saying, ‘I’m so glad to live in a state that values that.’”
At the end of May 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a “Proclamation on Reproductive Freedom.” The proclamation “reaffirms the state’s commitment to protecting women’s reproductive choices, educates Californians about their rights to reproductive freedom, and welcomes women to the state to exercise that right.” In other words, it did nothing new but simply provided the governor an opportunity to grab headlines as he encouraged women to come to his state for an abortion. It was a feel-good act for the pro-abortion crowd. The Governors of Oregon and Washington joined in on the publicity.
“In the absence of federal leadership on this issue, states must step up and put in place their own protections – both in statute and in their state constitutions, and through the expansion of family planning and education – to defend every American’s right to reproductive freedom,” write California Governor Gavin Newsom, Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Washington Governor Jay Inslee. “Roe is settled law, but newly enacted and clearly unconstitutional laws in a handful of states compel our states to act now to reaffirm longstanding commitments to safeguard the fundamental rights of women.”
So, given these examples of calls for visits from out-of-staters seeking abortions, is it a surprise that one hotel in Michigan upped the ante and offered free lodging and transportation to an abortion provider? ABC News reports that The Yale Hotel, located in Yale, Michigan is making that offer to women. The original post on the hotel’s Facebook page has been shared more than 3,000 times.
Dear sisters that live in Alabama, Ohio, Georgia, Arkansas, Missouri, or any of the other states that follow with similar laws restricting access,
We cannot do anything about the way you are being treated in your home-state.
But, if you can make it to Michigan, we will support you with several nights lodging, and transportation to and from your appointment.
(Update 5/22/19: Since I posted this, I’ve received numbers of people willing to help drive you here… and I’ve learned of organizations like Yellowhammerfund.org that have a network in place already to help with the many barriers to receiving safe and legal reproductive services. If you need help, please message me. In order to support that effort, I will be donating 25% of my receipts that are a direct result of the new policy to a fund like this. Amount donated to date: $100 (5/22/19) :-) )
We’ve got some amazing people in our village… we’ve got your backs.
#stopthebans #theyalehotel #thesisterhood #ittakesavillage
(Edited to add Missouri 5/16, Arkansas 5/18, to remove a couple hashtags that had become controversial 5/18, and to add all the rest of the states 5/19)
Just get yourselves to Michigan, ladies, and you can make a little vacation out of it. Perhaps the small town hotel sees a business opportunity here. By encouraging women to come to Michigan and take advantage of free lodging and transportation, like-minded pro-abortion vacationers may look the hotel up and stay there while visiting Michigan. The owner can get some good publicity by donating money to a fund like Yellowhammer Fund, as she says she is doing. I wonder if the volunteers coming forward to drive the women, as she mentioned in the Facebook post, are for local transportation or if the volunteers will travel to other states to pick up women and bring them to Michigan.
The Michigan legislature voted to restrict abortion and charge doctors who perform second-trimester abortions with a felony but the Governor of Michigan vowed to veto the legislation.
Last month, Michigan’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives and Senate both voted to ban second-trimester abortion procedures and make it a felony for doctors to perform them, except to save a woman’s life.
But Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, has vowed to veto any legislation that restricts abortion access.
It takes a village, indeed.