- SCOTUS will soon hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Organization, a case that could overturn Roe v. Wade, who protects federal abortion rights.
- Jackson Women’s Health is the only abortion clinic in Mississippi and is at the center of the case.
- The clinic faces a lack of resources and daily harassment by anti-abortion protesters.
- Visit the Insider homepage for more stories.
Before the pandemic, 2,500 people walked through the doors of Jackson Women’s Health, now the latest abortion provider in the entire Mississippi, each year looking for abortions. That number has only increased since then, to about 3,000 a year during the pandemic, as more clinics have closed their doors.
To welcome all patients – an influx that came from out of state like Louisiana and Alabama – Shannon Brewer, the director of Jackson Women’s Health in Jackson, Mississippi, said doctors and clinic staff work from morning to night.
After Mississippi officials voted to ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy in 2018, Women’s Health officials Jackson cited the state’s lawsuit, citing how the ban went against Roe v. But in May, the Supreme Court agreed to take him back Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a reproductive health case that could overturn Roe v. Wade of 1973 federally protecting a person’s right to have an abortion without excessive government restrictions.
On June 3, Brewer, who has worked at Jackson Women’s Health since 2001, spoke about it panel hosted by Rewire News Group regarding the struggles his organization has faced over the past two decades, including limited funding, overworked staff and constant harassment by anti-abortion protesters.
“We’re in pinnacle and needle belonging to the Supreme Court,” Brewer said while on the panel. “But we’ve always been in pins and needles, with all the new laws always coming. It’s a constant battle here in reality, because as soon as we get past an obstacle, there’s something else coming up.”
Anti-abortion protesters camp outside and call patients “wh — s” as they enter
According to Brewer, in recent years, his tactics have intensified, however, they were met with little resistance from law enforcement, he said.
During the panel, Brewer said protesters wore the same vests as clinic escorts to intercept patients as they walked up to the bright pink palace. Launch anti-abortion brochures through patients ’open windows. They stand on the stairs so they can see over the clinic fence, and call the patients “killers” and “wh — s” as they enter the building.
In 2019, Brewer and his team convinced city officials to create an ordinance so that non-patients could not walk on the property of the clinic. But the ordinance did not last long.
“The next thing we know, the signs had been broken down,” said Brewer, who later learned that it was the result of anti-abortion lawyers who cited the city for the order.
“So they took over the ordinance, which leaves us basically on our own,” Brewer said.
Funding is often cut short as staff care for thousands of patients each year
In addition to lack of government support, Brewer noted a lack of community support for Jackson’s Women’s Health.
“The only thing that is our biggest barrier is to get people to step up and talk when it comes to this clinic. People will talk about it behind closed doors and in private, but when it comes to stepping up, like this. it’s time to step up, people don’t, ”Brewer said during the panel.
As a result, the clinic has had periods of financial instability, which have been exacerbated by pandemic travel costs and limited funding for the grant, according to Brewer.
Many of the clinic’s doctors live outside the state, and have found flights, rental cars and gas three times more expensive than the pre-pandemic. When the lack of protective equipment for health workers occurred, providing equipment became another struggle.
Now that SCOTUS has agreed to hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, Brewer urges the public to donate money directly and to support abortion rights alongside her.
“At some point you can’t just say,‘ I’m pro-choice. ’It’s about action,” Brewer said.