Tennessee women’s health clinic Volunteer Women’s Medical Clinic in Knoxville has become the latest victim of a TRAP law requiring doctors who provide abortions to be both board-certified OB-GYNs and have hospital admitting privileges. It is the same type of bill that nearly closed Jackson Women’s Health Organization in Mississippi.
Although the clinic was able to have one of its providers reinstate his privileges, writes Deb Walsh, the owner of the clinic, that doctor sadly died short afterwards, leaving the clinic unable to assist women while trying to challenge the law in court.
Walsh writes a goodbye letter that is a stark reminder of the realities of the women they have helped over the years.
The clinic has been open for 38 years and I have worked there for over 30 years. I still remember the name of the first patient I took care of on the day I started, and I remember the answer an eleven year old girl gave when, after days of counseling, I asked her what she wanted to do. She said “I just want to go ride my new bicycle”. No kidding baby girl. So many images remain of the strength of women…….the day we looked out the front window and saw an Appalachian woman we’d just discharged pushing an electric blue Corvette Sting Ray fast enough that her husband could pop the clutch and start the engine…….the coal miner’s daughter that was full term and about to go into labor but swore it couldn’t be true because no one had ever been “up on” her…….the sorority girl that said she got pregnant by trying on her friend’s diaphragm that “must have had sperm on it”……the woman I brought back to life when she stopped breathing who later told us she had withheld critical medical history from us because she was afraid we wouldn’t let her have an abortion if she told us the truth……all the Catholic women who had abortions over and over again because taking a birth control pill every day added up to more sins than a few abortions a year.
Last summer Walsh was attacked by two anti-choice protesters who attempted to put a cross on clinic property.