For anyone from one of the states that has passed an extreme abortion ban and needs to access the procedure, here's one reason to consider a visit to the Midwest. The manager of a hotel in small-town Michigan has invited people traveling for an abortion to stay for free. Addressing her "dear sisters" in a Facebook post, the manager of the Yale Hotel, Shelley O'Brien, invited anyone from a state with "laws restricting access."
"We cannot do anything about the way you are being treated in your home-state," O'Brien wrote in a post dated May 16, which has been updated several times in recent weeks as more states passed anti-abortion laws. "But, if you can make it to Michigan, we will support you with several nights lodging, and transportation to and from your appointment." As of this writing, the post has racked up 4,500 reactions and has been shared 2,900 times.
The accommodations for anyone in need would be in Yale, Michigan, which does not have its own abortion provider — the town has just 1,900 people. The Detroit Free Press reported that the closest clinics are in Sterling Heights and Flint, Michigan. According to Google Maps, both are between 50 minutes and an hour's drive away from Yale.
Speaking with the Detroit paper, O'Brien explained that anyone who needed help accessing an abortion was happy to come to her hotel. "My offer extends to anybody that needs help anywhere," O'Brien told The Free Press. "It extends to any woman that needs an abortion and this could alleviate the barriers."
"I have three granddaughters, two great nieces and a lot of other women that I care about, and I don’t want any of them to die in back-alley abortions," she added. "And I don’t want any of them to ever have to proceed with a pregnancy if they don’t want to."
Michigan does not have laws on the books restricting abortion at any certain stage of pregnancy. However, Republicans in the state legislature have tried to move forward with more restrictions, including a ban on a third trimester abortion procedure, according to The Detroit Free Press. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has vowed to veto any such law that passes, and the majority of the state's voters are opposed to new abortion restrictions.
Some Republicans are pushing to have the anti-abortion law added to the books anyway via a loophole that allows for the collection of signatures that, in theory, bring an initiative to the vote of the people. As The Guardian reports, the legislature can then implement the law that the signatures reference before it's ever put to the people's vote — and in that case, the governor cannot veto it.
For now, though, Michigan remains an option for people seeking an abortion. Since O'Brien's original post, CNN reports that her business has improved — even though the town where she lives largely voted for President Donald Trump in 2016. O'Brien has also edited the Facebook post to note that she has had offers from neighbors to help drive women to their appointments, if they take her up on the assistance.