At least five of those clinics—not including Pittman’s—packed up and relocated to other, friendlier parts of the country. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the abortion clinic at the heart of the case that overturned Roe and the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, moved to New Mexico. So did Whole Woman’s Health, a network of abortions clinics whose victory in a 2016 Supreme Court case had, like Pittman’s case, once seemed like a sign of better things to come for abortion rights supporters. Whole Woman’s Health was once the face of abortion in Texas. Now, the network has closed down its four locations in the state. Financially, it felt impossible to stay open without providing abortions.
Between March 2022 and April 2023, at least 91 facilities have stopped offering abortions.
For some of the clinics that are staying behind in the post-Roe South, it’s become all too clear that the financial math doesn’t exactly add up.“We have lost so much money over the last year, but we’ve also helped probably close to 400 patients,” said Robin Marty, operations director at West Alabama Women’s Center. The former abortion clinic now offers birth control, helps people handle miscarriages, and provides gender-affirming health care, among other services. “And does that compare to the 2,500 that we used to do a year? No, but every single one of those patients is somebody who would not have been able to get care without us.”Marty quite literally wrote the book about life in a post-Roe world: In 2019, she wrote Handbook for a Post-Roe America. But, she admits, she got some of her predictions wrong. Marty thought more abortion providers would stay—not to perform abortions, but to offer other kinds of reproductive and maternal health services. “I thought that there would still be a network and there is no network in the South and it’s breaking my heart,” Marty said. “We know that patients are leaving some of these red states, blue states, in order to get abortions. But what happens when they come home? What happens when they come back and they don’t have a place that they can go face-to-face in order to do any sort of follow up?”
“As much as the public and the women need me, my family does as well.”
“When the state doesn’t want to help you and when the federal government seems to think that they can’t do anything… that’s when I have to turn to foundations. That’s when I have to turn to individuals and beg for money,” she said. “And that’s all I do now. I beg for money in my sleep.”Because many independent clinics are not non-profits, they have to pay taxes on donations; for that reason, some clinics don’t necessarily want direct donations. The website for Red River Women’s Clinic, an abortion clinic that once operated in North Dakota before moving to Minnesota last year, lists out other ways that people can support the clinic, from paying for staff’s meals to helping escort patients in and out of the building.
“I beg for money in my sleep.”