The young woman rushes into the entrance of the greyish building. A man, cap screwed on his head and blue jeans, suddenly harangues her: “Your son is a beautiful child. It’s not too late ! It’s Wednesday in Fargo, North Dakota, and it’s Abortion Day at the Women’s Clinic, the only facility in the state to perform abortions.
This July 6, from 9 a.m., twenty-four women, aged 17 to 42, will enter the establishment, protected by about fifteen volunteers in colorful T-shirts, the clinic escorts, to defy the anti- abortions. “Our job is to escort them safely to the facility. They yell at them, make them feel guilty,” said 61-year-old retired Kay Schwarzball, who has been coming every Wednesday for years. A few old signs are supposed to protect the place: “The doormat is private property”, “It is a federal crime to block the entrance to this building”. The anonymity of women is violated around this clinic located in the heart of the gentrified city center. “Downtown is nothing like what it was when we opened twenty-four years ago. There were no bars and no one was walking down the street,” says clinic director Tammy Kromenaker, 50, who sees a change in the profile of the protesters: “They now look like the Capitol rioters of 6 January. Before, they were old people. »
With the Supreme Court ruling removing the federal right to abortion, the center will cross the bridge over the Red River and set up shop opposite, in Moorhead, Minnesota, a neighboring state where abortion is not is not threatened. “Abortion will soon be illegal in North Dakota,” the director sums up. It will probably be July 28, although the entry into force of the law may be delayed by some legal remedies. There will still be a few permitted cases, such as rape or incest, “but we can’t keep our doors open just for those cases.”
The decision to change states was made as early as fall 2021, when Texas banned abortions beyond six weeks. “In light of what was happening in Texas, it was obvious that we had to move,” continues Tammy Kromenaker. North Dakota had a law in the works, passed a decade ago but which remained a dead letter after being challenged. Its entry into force will cause the only clinic present in this agricultural state, as vast as a third of France, to leave. “There is only one clinic needed, we are only 750,000,” said Ms. Kromenaker. The state prohibits the coverage of abortion, which costs 700 dollars, by insurance, but assistance of 350 dollars can be provided. The three female doctors come in turn from Colorado and Minnesota. With the seven nurses, they can easily switch to the Moorhead clinic: “They all have a license to practice in Minnesota,” says Ms. Kromenaker.
Over 12,000 donations
The move required the purchase and renovation of a building in Moorhead at an undisclosed location, due to threats. “It’s expensive, we’re over a million dollars,” says Kromenaker. By a coincidence of the calendar, a friend of his started a kitty the day before the Supreme Court’s decision on June 24: it was a rush, with more than 12,000 donations ranging from $ 5 to $ 32,000: Friday, July 8 , the prize pool reached $941,677. “The timing couldn’t have been better. I wonder how we could have thought that we were going to be able to finance all this [without kitty]. She doesn’t worry much about women’s ability to change states in order to have an abortion: “There’s no law against it, and the governors of Minnesota and North Dakota have indicated they won’t be involved in any lawsuits against people.” crossing the border. »
Outside, Bonnie Spies, mother of six children, invites the women to go elsewhere, a clinic where, she says, their child will be taken care of for two years. “A woman who goes through a crisis doesn’t always stay in crisis. After two years, she usually doesn’t need any more help,” she explains, inviting us to visit the Women’s Care Center, six blocks away. The place is obviously rich and very well funded, but its director refuses to talk to us. Bonnie Spies is not entirely satisfied with the Supreme Court’s decision: “It’s a first step, but women can still go to have an abortion in Minnesota. The big battle ahead is a constitutional amendment to protect the fetus. Opposite, they will try to do the same with abortion. It will be whoever convinces the most people. In this white and conservative North Dakota, anti-abortionists can rely on many elected officials. “They were sometimes voted out by a lot of women who came to the clinic and thought they would never need an abortion,” sighs Tammy Kromenaker, the director.