Daily Beast Dreams of Abortion Clinics in Malls, High-Schools

‘Women in the World’ features bizarre interview with abortion clinic architect.

“Safe, legal and RARE everywhere” is the new and improved abortion mantra – or so suggests The Daily Beast’s latest “Women in the World” blog. 

Daily Beast Contributor Gabby Bess recently explored “The Architecture of Abortion Clinics” by interviewing architect Lori Brown for “Women in the World.” To introduce Brown’s “new book” (published June 2013), Bess noted that, “abortion clinics are often pushed to the fringes of communities where access is the most crucial” to ask, “But what if they were integrated into the mainstream of our everyday space: clinics in malls, clinics on military bases, clinics on high school campuses, and open access to preventative care?”

Besides authoring “Contested Spaces: Abortion Clinics, Women's Shelters and Hospitals,” Brown serves as associate professor of architecture at Syracuse University. Brown co-founded Architexx, “a group of women architects of all ages who want to try and change the discipline” – beginning with hosting a “design competition for the [abortion] clinic in Mississippi.” Apparently, what inspired Brown was a PBS Frontline documentary called “The Last Abortion Clinic,” in which a Mississippi abortionist said, “Women just can’t get to the clinic. They don’t have a car, they can’t afford it, or the timing just doesn’t work.” 

Unfortunately for thousands of Mississippi’s African American babies many of the state’s black women reach the clinic just fine. Nearly 72 percent of abortions in Mississippi are black

Bess began the lengthy discussion by asking Brown, “[Have] you found a way that the architecture of a building can actually minimize harassment from protestors?” After they discussed how to “outsmart the protestors,” Bess asked, “Is it an issue for a lot of women that they just don’t have the resources to find the nearest clinic? Or is it just the literal, physical distance that they would have to travel?” Brown caught her gist and later responded: 

I think it’s so much about location and if, bear with me, I suggest that high schools—I know that in New York and California they can provide contraception and even in some schools in New York City they can provide emergency contraception—but what if abortion was accessible in high schools? What if it was accessible on military bases, where we know sexual assault is very high. What if it was available in malls because you can’t actually protest in a mall because it’s not public space, it’s private space. There are medical-type facilities already in a mall so why not have an abortion clinic in a mall? 

Sounds dreamy. Bess finished off her piece with the final jab: “Is there any architectural answer to having a more visible and accessible clinic?” 

Apparently in The Daily Beast’s bizzaro universe, there aren’t enough abortions because clinics are too well hidden, and women can’t just drop in while they’re window-shopping. But what do you expect from a site that just last week declared Wendy Davis “America’s Conscience on Abortion.”

— Katie Yoder is Staff Writer, Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow in Culture and Media at the Media Research Center. Follow Katie Yoder on Twitter.