Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to clarify the number of daily patients being treated. We’ve added more details on the schedule of appointments and where women receiving abortions are coming from.
GALVESTON, Texas (Nexstar) — With most abortions officially being illegal in Texas as of Thursday, women are looking for options, and some are turning to “Abort Offshore.” It’s a for-profit organization that is taking women out on boats from the Galveston area into federal waters to have abortions.
A man named Michael Kimbro said he launched Abort Offshore in mid-July. He said he has family in Texas but lives in New York — going back and forth between the two states.
According to the Abort Offshore website, they’re primarily providing services for women in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Kimbro has no medical experience, he confirmed. But he said he decided to create the business after the leak of the Supreme Court opinion that overturned the Roe v. Wade precedent.
“No, I should not be running any sort of medical facility,” Kimbro said.
“Why should women trust you?” reporter Jala Washington asked.
What he’s doing makes one thing clear: banning abortions won’t stop Texas women from finding ways to get them.
Kimbro said it’s about a 40-minute boat ride to federal waters to get women to a place where abortions may be deemed legal. Still, some women are willing to take the risk.
“I cannot have a baby right now,” one Texas woman said.
According to Kimbro, more than 200 Texas women have already gotten abortions through his for-profit organization. The process, Kimbro said, now starts with a physician referral.
“There’s a number of physicians that are working with us,” Kimbro said. “They then give a code to the sonogram company … the sonogram company then says, ‘OK, this person is real…’ So it starts with a four-letter and digit code, they then give them another unique identifier, and they then text our number. And then that’s when we schedule them on the boat.”
Kimbro said, so far, they’re averaging eight patients a day, but could see up 24. Being able to perform abortions on water is dependent on weather in the Gulf, Kimbro told us. Women are being charged about $1,500, according to him.
“It sounds really covert and crazy,” Kimbro said. “But, unfortunately, these laws require it.”
Two licensed Texas doctors are performing the abortions Sunday through Thursday, according to Kimbro.
Once a patient is verified, Abortion Offshore arranges a pre-boarding meeting at a hotel with what’s called a “patient advocate” in the Galveston area. Patients leave their phones behind, and a car takes them to a rental home near the water. They then go to a dock and out on the water.
If they bring someone for support, that person isn’t allowed on the boat and has to stay behind at the hotel, according to Kimbro.
“I spoke to somebody yesterday that asked me… Why would you even advertise this?” Kimbro said. “I was like, ‘Well, I wanted to see how much trouble I’d get in before really, I put a lot of money in this.'”
Kimbro admits he’s been accused of fraud multiple times but emphasized he’s never been convicted.
“Is this something that you’re doing as just another fraudulent type deal to make money? Or is this something that you’re truly doing to help women?” Washington asked.
“Neither at this point, like, it’s hard to say,” Kimbro said. “There’s a lot of other people that are going to exploit this situation.”
“Are you not somebody who is exploiting this situation though?” Washington asked.
“Of course I am,” Kimbro said. “That’s what I’m saying.”
According to Kimbro, he wants what he’s doing to draw attention to the lengths women will go to now that abortions are banned in Texas. He said the business itself isn’t profitable, because operating costs are so expensive.
Kimbro said he doesn’t want to keep facilitating abortions but women are still being referred by physicians. He said women are still seeking the services his business offers.
“It was either this or having a kid,” one Texas woman said.