YALE, Mich. (CBS Local) — The Yale Hotel in Michigan is offering free lodging and transportation for women who are seeking to have an abortion, but live in states that have restricted access to the procedure.
Shelley O’Brien, manager of the hotel in the largely conservative small town of Yale, made the offer last month after several state legislatures, mostly in the South and Midwest, passed “fetal heartbeat” bills.
The new measures ban abortions after an embryo develops a pulse, which can be as early as the sixth week of pregnancy. Many of the laws are being challenged in the courts and may not go into effect.
“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,” O’Brien wrote on Facebook.
O’Brien, who is a mother of three and grandmother of seven, said she was inspired by the Underground Railroad, which was used to transport Southern slaves north to freedom during the early to mid-1800s.
“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,” O’Brien told the Detroit Free Press.
Her Facebook post has since gone viral, with more than 3,000 shares. Responses have been mostly positive but while she has gotten some pushback, she refuses to be deterred.
“This is important,” said O’Brien. “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.”
While the nearest abortion providers are about an hour away in Sterling Heights and Flint, O’Brien said offers have poured in to help drive the women to their appointments.
“We’ve got some amazing people in our village… we’ve got your backs,” O’Brien wrote.