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Hotel owner offers free stays and rides for women seeking abortions, likens her move to the Underground Railroad

Come to Michigan

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

A hotel owner in Yale, Michigan, is opening her doors free of cost to women seeking an abortion in the state, according to the Detroit Free Press.

What are the details?

Shelley O'Brien, who owns the Yale Hotel, was moved to support her "sisters" seeking an abortion and issued a notice of help on Facebook.

On the social media platform, O'Brien wrote, "Dear sisters that live in Alabama, Ohio, Georgia, Arkansas, Missouri, or any of the other states that follow similar laws" restricting abortion.

"We will support you with several nights lodging and transportation to and from your appointment," her post continued. Such niceties will be free of cost, she added.

O'Brien, a 55-year-old mother of three children, and grandmother of seven children, compared her offer to the Underground Railroad.

"This is important," she insisted. "This is my line. There's no coming back from this. You start taking away the right for women to control their own bodies, and we're done for as a civilization."

"I can't stop what's happening," O'Brien continued, "but I have the resources to maybe help someone in that position, and especially knowing that women are coming from other states already."

"My offer extends to anybody that needs help anywhere," she said. "It extends to any woman that needs an abortion and this could alleviate the barriers."

"I have three granddaughters, two great nieces and a lot of other women that I care about, and I don't want any of them to die in back-alley abortions," O'Brien continued. "And I don't want any of them to ever have to proceed with a pregnancy if they don't want to. ... People aren't perfect, and people shouldn't have to die for their mistakes."

The outlet reported that Yale is a conservative town where President Donald Trump won almost 65 percent of the vote in the 2016 presidential election.

How have people reacted?

O'Brien said that she received a lot of attention over her offer, and it was mostly positive.

"I have had one person call to say that he thought it was wrong," O'Brien admitted. "He didn't have Facebook, but he heard about it and he wanted to let me know that he thought what we are doing is wrong. And I've been called a 'baby killer.' And it's like, 'No, I'm not killing babies in the basement. I am just giving someone a place to stay or maybe a ride.'"

Despite naysayers, O'Brien revealed that no one has personally confronted her over the move, or protested her hotel in response to the offer.

"[T]he only way this is going to change is if people are willing to risk something," she explained. "The reason [lawmakers] get away with stuff like this is because nobody wants to make waves, nobody wants to give anything up for it."

O'Brien said that some women were even moved to offer up similar services, such as transportation to abortion appointments, to women who need it.

O'Brien said that her bookings have increased in the days following the announcement. She revealed that one customer wrote a note on a receipt that read, "Thank you Yale Hotel for standing up for those affected by current policy."

O'Brien said that no one has yet taken advantage of her offer.

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