Abortion Heat Hits Alabama’s ‘Saturday Women’
“When I had my abortion, I wasn’t afraid of the procedure, but I was terrified at the thought of having protestors humiliate me,” she said in a phone interview. “I didn’t know where the clinic was so my heart was pounding at every turn because I just knew there would be people holding signs and yelling at me, calling me a terrible person. I was confident in my choice, but I just didn’t want anyone to know.”
But because she had the procedure on a Tuesday and her follow-up appointment on a Thursday, she came and went without a protester in sight. She used sick leave hours at her job for both days, citing an emergency medical procedure.
If she had gone on a Saturday, however, things would have been very different outside the West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa.
That’s the day of the “Saturday women,” women seeking an abortion, the majority of whom have low-to-no incomes, who can’t afford to take off during the workweek if they have jobs or have to catch a ride because they are traveling out of the state or the county.
It’s also the day when protesters, who also hold down week-day jobs and work schedules, often come out in force.
“Saturday mornings from 7:45 a.m., about 15 minutes before the first appointment, until 11 a.m. are the peak hours for protestors,” said Amanda Reyes, a volunteer escort for the West Alabama Women’s Center.
The Tuscaloosa clinic is the only clinic left in the state that offers therapeutic abortions, which are performed when there is a threat to the woman’s health of life if she gives birth. All other therapeutic abortions in the state are performed in hospitals. It’s also one of the few abortion clinics that will accept Medicaid, since Medicaid, by law, must cover abortions where life endangerment to the woman is present.