A spokeswoman for Alabama Governor Kay Ivey on Monday opposed a plan to place an offshore vessel in federal Gulf waters to serve as a floating abortion clinic.
In a statement to AL.com on Monday, the governor’s spokeswoman, Gina Maiola, said, “We need offshore drilling, not abortions.”
His comment comes after news surfaced over the weekend that a San Francisco-based doctor was working to secure a boat and funding to set up an offshore abortion clinic in federal waters near states where abortions are prohibited.
Dr. Meg Autry, vice president of postgraduate and continuing medical education in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, told media last week based in San Francisco that she had anticipated the costs of the boat. be around $20 million.
Autrey is spearheading a project called “PRROWESS” or Protecting Reproductive Rights of Women Endangered by State Statutes. The organization is seeking donations and a donated boat, according to a CBS News report.
Autrey said while she hoped the clinic would be ready in a year, the challenges “are myriad” related to logistics, maritime law and security.
Alabama State Sen. Chris Elliott, R-Daphne, said he felt the concept was a “publicity stunt” following last month’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling to reverse the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that allowed women in the United States the right to have an abortion.
Elliott also said the logistics of operating an offshore abortion clinic would be problematic.
“One of the problems with trying to circumvent state law by going offshore is that you have to come back to port,” Elliott said. “You can’t break state law and then come back to a port where you broke the law. This would prevent most areas of the Gulf Coast.
Autry told The Associated Press that they are still trying to work out many details, such as where the boat will launch and how the women will get to the ship.
The Supreme Court’s ruling moved the decision on the legality of abortions to the state level, where Gulf Coast states — all led by Republican politicians — pushed bans forward. Alabama law makes it a Class A felony to perform an abortion unless a process is followed that establishes a medical need for it based on the health of the mother.
Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi also have laws that prohibit abortions.
In Florida, a new abortion law prohibits abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
There have been more than 79,000 abortions in Florida in the past year, according to state health data, and about 94% of those cases occurred in the first trimester, which lasts until the 11th week of pregnancy.
Maiola’s comments also illustrated the continued frustration of Republican-led Gulf states with the Biden administration’s approach to offshore energy development.
The Biden administration is proposing a five-year plan to authorize up to 11 and as few as zero new oil and gas sites in the Gulf of Mexico and off the Alaskan coast. Ten of these new oil and gas lease sales could take place in the Gulf of Mexico.
The proposal, released July 1, represents a decrease from the 47 lease sales proposed under a 2018 Trump administration draft plan.
U.S. Representative Jerry Carl, R-Mobile, criticized the Biden administration earlier this month for not rolling out its five-year plan for offshore energy development more quickly.
Alabama, over the past 15 years, has benefited greatly from the revenues collected through the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006 (GOMESA).
The GOMESA program reserves 37.5% of federal royalties from new Gulf oil and gas drilling leases for the four Gulf oil-producing states: Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Funds can be used for coastal conservation projects, coastal preservation projects and for hurricane protection.
Alabama received about $41 million in GOMESA money last year.