Carbondale in center spotlight of debate over abortion
July 3, 2023
Since Roe v. Wade was overturned one year ago, Carbondale has become a focus point of the national debate over abortion rights.
When the Supreme Court made its decision, the first state that banned abortion services was Missouri. Following that were states surrounding Illinois such as: Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana. Illinois however still remained committee to a woman’s right to choose.
In Carbondale, a center for reproductive health named Choices opened up soon after the repeal. Its first location was in Memphis, Tennessee. According to the Choices website, the clinic provides “medication and procedural abortions, gynecological wellness care, gender-affirming hormone therapy, HIV testing and referrals, birth control, midwife-led prenatal care and births, and more.”
The nonprofit agency has received much attention in the past months.
A recent article in USA Today said, “The city would become the closest abortion destination for more than 1.2 million women from states as far as Louisiana, according to an analysis by Caitlin Myers, an economics professor at Middlebury College who studies abortion access.”
The Washington Post said, “New bans in other states have heightened the pressure on Illinois as a sanctuary state.”
Choices CEO Jennifer Pepper says she is grateful to be able to provide services where they are otherwise impossible to get.
“We really hope that our presence helps increase access to services that are needed in the community,” Pepper told the Daily Egyptian earlier. “So that folks in the area don’t have to travel as far to access really critical and important health care for them.”
Choices is located at 600 N Giant City Rd in Carbondale which is five hours from Springfield, MO, three and a half hours away from Nashville, TN, and around four hours away from Indianapolis, Indiana.
The USA Today article, focused on a woman who couldn’t keep her child due to personal circumstances. She traveled seven hours to Carbondale with her brother and very little money.
“It was a nearly seven-hour round trip from her home in Tennessee. Long enough for the decision to rattle in her head as the flat Midwestern landscape slipped by the car windows,” the newspaper said.
The Amtrak that runs through town connects as far south as New Orleans. Pepper traveled many miles, met with countless people, to find the new home for Choices.
Many in the community in Carbondale were not supportive of the decision to open an abortion clinic. Opponents have protested outside since day one.”
City Council member Adam Loos told the Daily Egyptian last year there will always be those who oppose abortion.
“That’s true of this, but the community in Carbondale was overwhelmingly supportive,” he said.