Tue | Jun 18, 2019

At abortion clinics, new laws sow confusion, uncertainty

Published:Wednesday | May 22, 2019 | 12:15 AM
Escorts, using umbrellas, shield clients from the gestures and voices of anti-abortion activists standing on the sidewalk in front of the Alabama Women’s Wellness Center Friday, May 17, 2019 in Huntsville, Ala. The Alabama legislation signed into law Wednesday would make performing or attempting to perform an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony. The ban does not allow exceptions for rape and incest.(AP Photo/Eric Schultz)
A ‘No Trespassing’ sign is posted along the fencing protecting the parking lot of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization on Friday, May 17, 2019, in Jackson, Mississippi. The facility is the state’s only abortion clinic.
Anti-abortion messages written in chalk are drawn along the sidewalk leading to the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Friday, May 17, 2019, in Jackson, Miss. The facility is the state’s only abortion clinic. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Shannon Brewer, the clinic director at the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, watches a monitor with the live feed from security video cameras set throughout the property Friday, May 17, 2019, in Jackson, Miss. Brewer is concerned about the growing number of abortion restrictive bills being passed by state legislatures, (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
This Friday, May 17, 2019 photo shows the Jackson Women's Health Organization in Jackson, Miss. The facility is the state's only abortion clinic. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Protesters for women's rights march to the Alabama Capitol to protest a law passed last week making abortion a felony in nearly all cases with no exceptions for cases of rape or incest, Sunday, May 19, 2019, in Montgomery, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Dr. Yashica Robinson, is greeted with a hug from Josie Poland, a clinic escort, while arriving for work at the Alabama Women's Wellness Center Friday, May 17, 2019 in Huntsville, Ala. The Alabama legislation signed into law Wednesday would make performing or attempting to perform an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony. The ban does not allow exceptions for rape and incest.(AP Photo/Eric Schultz)
Major Fecteau, a Huntsville anti-abortion protester, holds a rosary and prays while he holds a sign on the sidewalk in front of the Alabama Women's Wellness Center Friday, May 17, 2019 in Huntsville, Ala. The Alabama legislation signed into law Wednesday would make performing or attempting to perform an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony. The ban does not allow exceptions for rape and incest.(AP Photo/Eric Schultz)
Supporters crowd a meeting room before a roundtable discussion at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta on Thursday, May 16, 2019 to discuss abortion bans in Georgia and across the country. Georgia was the fourth state this year to pass anti-abortion "heartbeat" legislation, but Democratic presidential candidates have taken aim at the state's law banning most abortions after six weeks that's set to go into effect in January. (Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
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HUNTSVILLE, AlaBAMA (AP):

Abortion clinics are facing protesters emboldened by a flurry of restrictive new state laws as they reassure confused patients that the laws have yet to take effect, abortion providers said.

“We have actually had many people calling and say, ‘Are you open? Are you still seeing patients? Is abortion now illegal? Will something happen to me if I come for care?’” said Dr Willie Parker, one of two doctors providing abortions at the Alabama Women’s Center in Huntsville, recently.

Earlier last week, Alabama enacted the nation’s strictest abortion law, making performing abortions a felony at any stage of pregnancy with almost no exceptions.

Women who came through the doors held hands with loved ones or curled into chairs as they waited. A television set to a cable news channel aired a segment about Alabama’s abortion law.

SHORTAGE OF CLINICS

It is one of only three abortion clinics in the state and the only one that provides abortions when a woman is up to 20 weeks pregnant. Some patients drove from Mississippi and other neighbouring states because of a shortage of clinics.

“Our doors are open, and we continue to be here for women in our communities, and we intend to keep it that way,” said Dr Yashica Robinson, an obstetrician and gynaecologist who provides abortions at the clinic.

Thank you notes from patients, sent on cards or written on yellow and blue sticky notes, dot a bulletin board in the clinic.

“I was so scared on this journey in the Bible Belt, and you put me at ease with no judgment,” one read.

Georgia , Kentucky , Mississippi and Ohio have passed laws that prohibit abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected – at about six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant. Missouri and Louisiana are close to enacting similar bans.