Flooded Clinic Kept Doing Abortions After Hurricane Sandy

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 2, 2012   |   10:59AM   |   Falls Church, VA

A local abortion business in northern Virginia was flooded after Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the United States earlier this week. While relief organizations work overtime to provide food, water and shelter to homeless victims, one abortion business threw down towels on the floor and kept right on doing abortions.

Just five hours after entering the dilapidated facility, abortion clinic workers performed their first abortion. Incredibly, almost every staff member managed to make it to the abortion center and half of the women who had scheduled abortions had their babies aborted on Monday and Tuesday, the two worst days of the storm.

Here’s the incredulous story from a web site that brags about how the abortion clinic managed to stay open despite the hurricane:

“So we got in around 5:30 a.m., there is two inches of water in the surgery room, water on the carpets, two offices totally soaked, water leaking in from our large windows…we put out hundreds of towels and started mopping up… we started seeing patients at ten a.m.”

Rose Codding, director of Falls Church Healthcare Center, a Virginia clinic that provides abortions and other reproductive health care services, is calmly telling me about her and her staff’s response in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. These efforts were successful—the clinic did not close at all, a tribute both to very careful planning and to the extraordinary dedication of those who work in the abortion field.

FCHC was able to see patients on both Monday and Tuesday, the days of the greatest disruption by Sandy in Virginia. Of her staff of 11, all but two were able to make it to the clinic on those days, despite quite challenging driving conditions. And half of that day’s patients were able to reach the clinic as well on Monday and somewhat more on Tuesday. (Those unable to keep their appointments were mainly women who depended on public transportation, which was suspended).

Patients, according to Codding, were surprised and grateful that the clinic was opened. Ironically, the storm in one sense provided a benefit to the clinic’s patients—given that most workplaces were shut down, these women did not have to take time off from work. The only disgruntled patients were those scheduled for Tuesday abortions who had to make their way to the clinic on Monday for their sonograms, mandated by the state to take place at least 24 hours in advance of their procedure. “I can’t believe I had to drive through the rain just for this!” was a not uncommon refrain.

It has finally stopped raining in Virginia, and while things are getting somewhat easier, they are still not back to normal. Codding, for example, has been dealing with the aftermath of soaked carpets and the need to eliminate mold, which can cause a special risk to staff and patients with asthma. And of course, she and her staff, who heroically rose to the occasion for several days running and had to add heavy-duty cleanup to their already crowded work lives, are tired.



The willingness of Rose Codding and the staff of FCHC to go to such lengths to keep open in the face of natural disasters mirrors other stories I have heard over the years—stories which speak both to women’s determination to get their abortions, no matter what, and the abortion-providing community’s attempt to accommodate these women.