Inside an Abortion Clinic Days Before Florida’s Six-Week Ban Takes Effect

The sky was still dark outside the clinic, but two women were already sitting quietly in the small, beige waiting room while Candace Dye and her staff prepared for an extremely busy morning. It was a few minutes past 5 a.m. on one of the last days it would be legal to get an abortion until 15 weeks of pregnancy in Florida, and A Woman’s World Medical Center in Fort Pierce was completely booked.

“I just can’t believe it’s actually going to happen,” Ms. Dye said.

Starting on Wednesday, Florida will ban abortions after six weeks, a dramatic change in a state that less than two years ago allowed the procedure up to about 24 weeks. Prohibiting it at six weeks, when many women do not yet know that they are pregnant, will further restrict access to abortion in the Deep South where a number of other states have near-total bans, and force many patients to travel much farther for care.

Ms. Dye, 67, opened her independent clinic in Fort Pierce, about 130 miles north of Miami on Florida’s Atlantic Coast, in 1991. Now she wondered if she would have to lay off two people from her modest staff or possibly close her doors. She hopes to carry on until November, at least, when Florida voters will decide whether to amend the State Constitution to guarantee access to abortion “before viability,” or about 24 weeks.

“I’m not ready to give up,” she said.

It was Saturday, one of the two days a week when a doctor came to the clinic to prescribe medication abortions and provide surgical ones, back to back to back, before heading to another clinic further south.

Several young men stood on the sidewalk in front of the clinic, a house painted light green on a corner lot near downtown Fort Pierce, a city of about 48,000. They held large anti-abortion signs, approached cars as they pulled into the parking lot and hollered at patients as they walked in, or sometimes through the clinic’s closed windows.

Anti-abortion protesters outside A Woman’s World Medical Center in Fort Pierce.Credit…Martina Tuaty for The New York Times
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