The nation’s attention has been focused on Alabama since it passed the country’s most restrictive abortion law last month, making the procedure illegal at the moment of conception, with no exceptions for rape or incest. But a new podcast episode reminds listeners that even now, before the law goes into effect, Alabama is a state that only has three abortion clinics—and just one doctor with hospital admitting privileges who can perform the medical procedure.
WNYC’s The Stakes, hosted by Kai Wright, released a new episode titled, “The Abortion Clinic That Won’t Go Quietly” Tuesday (June 18). In it, Wright tours Alabama Women’s Center, the sole abortion provider within 150 miles that sees people choosing to terminate their pregnancies from Alabama and nearby Tennessee, Louisiana, Florida and Mississippi. On a busy day, there are 40 patients.
The episode ponders how the nation has gotten to a place of such harsh restrictions some 46 years after the decision in Roe v. Wade. Wright believes it dates back to the 2010 election in which Republicans took power in many state legislatures—for the first time in Alabama since Reconstruction. Since then, the state passed its current abortion law (which will be overridden when the new one goes into effect) that bans the procedure after 22 weeks.
He first interviews LaShonda Pinchon, a Black nurse who has worked at Alabama Women’s Center for 14 years. She considers her job there to be “a calling.” Pinchon shows Wright a supply closet that doubles as a safe room, complete with a panic button.
Wright next speaks with Dr. Yashica Robinson. As the state’s lone remaining abortion provider who has hospital admitting privileges—who was also a Black teen mother—she could be charged with a class A felony and imprisoned for up to 100 years were she to perform an abortion under the new law. Robinson on why she continues to do this work:
I know I pay an overwhelming cost to be able to provide abortion care here. And I know that my family pays a price … but if I take the quote unquote easy way out and just quit because that’s what anti-abortion activists wanted me to do, I have to think about mentally how that would affect me. I’m not trying to sound like a hero, but that would be a bigger cost for me.
Wright also speaks with state representative Laura Hall (D), whose district includes the abortion clinic, The Stakes’ producer Jessica Miller on the legal obstacles to bringing medication abortion to Alabama and Michael Li of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.
Listen to the entire episode: