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Free of cost | Businesses offer help amid Indiana's uncertain future of abortion laws

Sitting in downtown Jeffersonville, Close Enough Café, some say, sells pretty good coffee. But it's what they're handing out for free that's getting attention.

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. — As Indiana lawmakers prepare to reconvene in a special session on July 6 where it's expected they'll pass some sort of abortion ban, Jeffersonville businesses are doing what they can to offer resources to the community.

It's been five days since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a decades-old decision federally protecting the right to an abortion in the nation.

And now, some Jeffersonville businesses are looking to remind customers they offer Plan-B, free of cost.

"We want this to be a safe place for people to feel inclusive and safe to be here," Taylor Peters, a shift-lead at Close Enough Café, said. 

Located along Spring Street, Close Enough Café is joined by neighboring downtown businesses Alcove and Bad Cat Boutique in offering this service.

All three stores are owned and operated by Collin Palmer, who started distributing the product at his businesses a couple of years ago.

RELATED: No, the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade does not ban birth control

"We started it to engage with our community and provide a safe environment for everyone," Palmer said. "What we really, ultimately wanted to do was create an environment for our patrons where they can feel safe coming out, despite some of the terrifying things that take place in our world today. " 

Palmer said he tries to keep each of the three establishments stocked with up to 20 doses at any time. He limits the contraceptive to two doses per customer and employees keep the free transaction as discreet as possible. 

"We take a paper bag, and we put the Plan-B in there and hand it to them, no questions asked," Peters said. "It's the same kind of bag we serve our sandwiches in. So it looks like a standard transaction."

Palmer said for the first time ever, all of his stores are out of stock, and Peters decided to make a social media post advertising the service.

"We don't regularly publicize it, however on Friday, when everything was going on with Roe v. Wade, I immediately felt this feeling of fear and anxiety," Peters said. "And I just knew if I were out there, I would want some kind of public assurance or public aid. It just went viral."

RELATED: Abortion numbers up as Indiana lawmakers consider further restrictions

The stores handed out the last of its doses, around 40, and are waiting on another shipment.

"We've become a focal point and a bit of a lightning rod [now that] people are aware that they can get it here," Palmer said. "But the question becomes, how available will it be?" 

The attention for Palmer's stores comes as CVS and Rite Aid are limiting purchases of the emergency contraceptive to three per customer amid increased demand.

"I don't feel entitled to speak on behalf of the millions of women who just had constitutional rights stripped from them," Palmer said. "I feel a bit like they are struggling to find the words. It's such an unexpected precedent to reverse 50 years of established legislation."

So far, seven have banned abortions due to previously passed trigger laws, including Kentucky

Indiana legislators have yet to put in place any laws to further restrict abortion access, but the republican supermajority is well poised to do so.

In March 2022, 100 Republican Indiana lawmakers signed a letter sent to Gov. Eric Holcomb, asking for a special session if abortion rights were overturned by the US Supreme Court.

RELATED: PHOTOS: Thousands of Hoosiers voice support, opposition to SCOTUS abortion ruling

On June 24, Holcomb released this statement:

The Supreme Court’s decision is clear, and it is now up to the states to address this important issue. We’ll do that in short order in Indiana. I’ve already called the General Assembly back on July 6, and I expect members to take up this matter as well.

I have been clear in stating I am pro-life. We have an opportunity to make progress in protecting the sanctity of life, and that’s exactly what we will do.

Per a Terminated Pregnancy Report published by the Indiana Health Department's Division of Vital Resources, in 2020, there were a total of 7,756 terminations reported in Indiana: 7,372 (95.05%) were for Indiana residents, while 384 (4.95%) were for out-of-state residents.

Palmer said there are several other Jeffersonville shops that hand out free contraceptives, and that he hopes as businesses continue offering the service, it' will help break down the stigma surrounding it.

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