“This is a transparent attempt to bankrupt the clinic in order to further limit access to abortion in a state that desperately needs it," clinic supporters wrote
An abortion clinic in Florida that was penalized with high fines received help paying its debt thanks to a crowdfunding effort from thousands of people.
In mid-August, The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) fined the Center of Orlando for Women $193,000 — nearly three times the fine ($67,550) recommended by an administrative judge’s recommendation — for violating a law that requires women to wait 24 hours before having abortions, according to CBS News.
In a court filing, the clinic’s attorney Julie Gallagher, asked for a lower fine noting that the large sum would "would likely force the clinic into bankruptcy or closure,” per the outlet.
Gallagher told The Guardian that the clinic would have avoided the fines if they had been able to get information from the AHCA about when the 24-hour waiting period for abortions would start after a judge allowed the law, which had been on hold for seven years, to finally take effect in April.
“The agency wouldn’t tell them anything,” Gallagher said. “You’re calling the regulators to try to get some guidance on what your current obligations are. And they’re saying they don’t know. Well, they knew. They just weren’t telling.”
The insurmountable fine led supporters of the clinic to start a fundraiser on nonprofit crowdfunding website Give Butter to help raise the money needed to keep it open, saying on the website, “This is a transparent attempt to bankrupt the clinic in order to further limit access to abortion in a state that desperately needs it.”
Within a few days, they were not only able to reach the goal but surpass it. As of Wednesday, nearly 6,000 supporters chipped in to raise $214,0000 to pay off the clinic’s fines.
Over a dozen other abortion clinics also failed to comply with the law, with ten other licensed abortion clinics (in addition to the Center of Orlando for Women) ordered to pay fines, an AHCA staffer previously testified, per the outlet.
Gallagher and the AHCA did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
The situation had been a dire one for residents of the southern states as researchers from the Society of Family Planning found that the state of Florida saw a huge influx of patients seeking an abortion in the south after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, since it was one of the only states that still permitted abortions.
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Florida bans abortions past 15 weeks of pregnancy, though Florida Gov. Ron Desantis, following the lead of several states, signed into law a six week abortion ban, which is currently on hold pending a review by the state’s supreme court.
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