West Alabama Women’s Center at risk of closing

Published: Feb. 14, 2023 at 10:17 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Nearly six months after The Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, one local women’s clinic is struggling to keep the doors open.

The West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa used to provide abortion services, but now they offer family planning and women’s care to those in need.

The center has not performed an abortion since that decision in June 2022, and they were able to pivot services to an all-around women’s health clinic, but that’s not bringing in enough money for the clinic to keep going.

“There isn’t another place for them to go,” Clinic Director Robin Marty said.

With limited healthcare options for low income and uninsured, The West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa said they are seeing around 20 patients a week. They used to see an average of 200 hundred a month.

Now they provide care like contraception, annual exams, and STD testing.

“We are finally able to see a lot of people,” Marty said. “But, we are doing it to uninsured, underinsured and Medicaid patients, which means as income, we aren’t really bringing anything into the clinic.”

Marty said they’ve been fundraising for months, even bringing in $200,000 last year after The Supreme Court ruling. She said it’s how they’ve stayed open so far, but that money is almost gone.

“We are essentially bringing in no income and all of our fundraising goes to making sure our staff gets paid and our lights stay on,” Marty said. “At this point, we probably have until June or July in order to keep operating. If we are unable to get it, then unfortunately we will be another clinic that has closed.”

Marty said they are hoping for state and federal funding to keep the clinic operating.

“We are looking at ways that we can find both state and federal funding because we know that there is a lot of pregnancy that is going to be happening in this state. We had one patient who was 20 weeks pregnant and had not had an exam because she could not get insurance and could not find a doctor to see her. These are the kind of people we are seeing now.”

Marty said if they were to close, hundreds of women would lose access to female care.

“There is the county health department if they aren’t insured,” she said. “Otherwise, they can go to a clinic in Birmingham, there is a Planned Parenthood out there, or a Planned Parenthood in Mobile. There is no place for a person to go here in Tuscaloosa.”

Marty said the center is also able to get patients in quickly, where other clinics may have a longer wait.

“If they are on Medicaid or uninsured, you can go to the county health department, we have patients reporting, especially for something like an IUD, up to three four months to get an appointment.”

Marty said the clinic is planning a fundraiser for April or May and they plan to stay open as long as they can.

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