A hotel manager in a conservative Michigan town has publicly announced that she will provide free rooms and transportation to and from clinics for women seeking abortions from states that have placed restrictions on the procedure.
Shelley O’Brien runs the Yale Hotel in Yale, Michigan, a city that, according to the Detroit Free Press, voted for President Donald Trump in 2016. He received 65% of the vote in the city. O’Brien posted the following message on Facebook:
Dear sisters that live in Alabama, Ohio, Georgia, Arkansas, Missouri, or any of the other states that follow with similar laws restricting access,
We cannot do anything about the way you are being treated in your home-state.
But, if you can make it to Michigan, we will support you with several nights lodging, and transportation to and from your appointment.
She has updated the post several times since she originally put it up on May 16, as more states moved to restrict when during a pregnancy a woman could obtain an abortion. She also said she would donate 25% of her “receipts that are a direct result of the new policy to a fund” like Yellowhammer, which provides money to women in Alabama seeking an abortion. O’Brien wrote that she has already donated $100 so far due to the new policy.
“We've got some amazing people in our village... we've got your backs,” she wrote.
Her policy was directed toward states that have passed “fetal heartbeat” laws, which ban abortion after a heartbeat has been detected, usually around six weeks of pregnancy. The Press reported that five states — Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Ohio — have passed such a law. Alabama also passed a law that bans abortion except for when the life of the mother is at risk. Missouri’s new law bans the procedure after eight weeks of pregnancy.
While speaking to the Press, O’Brien compared her providing women free rooms so they could terminate their pregnancies to the work of those running the Underground Railroad, which led slaves to freedom in the North back in the early to mid-1800s.
“This is important,” she told the outlet. “This is my line. There’s no coming back from this. You start taking away the right for women to control their own bodies, and we’re done for as a civilization.”
"I can’t stop what’s happening, but I have the resources to maybe help someone in that position, and especially knowing that women are coming from other states already," she added.
She also said one man called to complain about what she was doing after hearing about her Facebook offer.
"I have had one person call to say that he thought it was wrong," she told the Press. "He didn’t have Facebook, but he heard about it and he wanted to let me know that he thought what we are doing is wrong. And I’ve been called a baby killer. And it’s like, 'No, I’m not killing babies in the basement. I am just giving someone a place to stay or maybe a ride.'”
She also told the Press that she has not seen any protesters outside the hotel and has not been confronted personally.