Abortion funds: what they are and how they work

by Barbara R. Abercrombie
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In the US, getting an abortion can present financial and logistical challenges. Now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that guaranteed a person’s constitutional right to abortion, there will be more hurdles for many of those struggling to find care.

But long before news broke in May that this legal precedent could be overturned, organizations across the country called abortion funds have been working to connect people seeking abortions with the resources they need to get on with life. To come to their appointment and afterward.

Nonprofit National Network of Abortion Funds, a grassroots network of more than 90 abortion funds in the US, said that between July 2019 and June 2020, 81,692 people received help through the web. That number comprised only about 35% of calls in the United States. received during that period.

Miranda Vargas, the board member of the Northwest Abortion Access Fund, which serves Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska, said call volume had already increased as restrictions and trigger bans have come into play in recent months.

“We expect to have to be flexible and respond to the changing needs of people who want abortions, as well as people from other parts of the country who may not have as easy access to abortions where they are,” she said.

Here’s what you need to know about abortion funds.

What is an abortion fund?

On a broad level, it’s a collective of people working to make abortion accessible, said Stephanie Loraine Piñeiro, co-executive director of the Florida Access Network abortion fund. Piñeiro said funds might look like more formally organized groups such as nonprofits, or volunteers may run them more. According to the site of the National Network of Abortion Funds, abortion funds want to “fill gaps in care.”

†[They’re a] connection between people who need abortions and cannot afford or have access to them,” Vargas said.

How do they work, and what do they include?

While the funds may vary, they can cover everything from the procedure to travel, lodging, and other needed support, such as childcare. Depending on the fund, it can also help with logistics to get people to their appointments. Some funds can give money directly to people seeking help. Others may work now with the clinics they work with. The Arizona Abortion Fund, for example, offers gift cards for everything from gasoline to groceries.

“We’ve even covered people’s cell phone bills. We’ve paid for new tires to help people get to their appointments,” said Eloisa Lopez, the fund’s executive director.

According to the National Network of Abortion Funds, they are largely dependent on donations. Funds often work together in cases where, for example, a person travels across state lines.

It can also differ per fund to be eligible for assistance. Some may have financial qualifications that a person must meet, while others may not. Many offer volunteer hotlines or so-called cold lines, where a help seeker can leave a message asking for help.

Why do people need them?

Not everyone is financially able to pay all the costs of an abortion. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the majority of abortions cost $450-$600 in the first trimester, and the costs escalate later on. This does not include other related costs, such as travel and lodging expenses for those needing to leave the state to receive abortion care. KFF also noted in a blog post that the Federal Reserve Board found that more than 35% of adults in the US don’t have the savings or money to cover the cost of a $400 medical bill.

“We are going through a very difficult time economically in our country, where people are already struggling to pay for gas, feed their families, pay rent, or even have affordable housing,” Piñeiro said.

For example, in Florida, people must go to a clinic at least twice because of a mandatory 24-hour waiting period, which can mean being off work and organizing childcare. “There is so much that goes into making your appointment, [and] this is before having an abortion.”

Some people who need abortion the most may also have the greatest challenges getting that care.

“The people who most need access to abortion … are people in rural areas, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, young people, people who are homeless or who experience intimate partner violence,” Vargas said. Plethora of reasons to need an abortion but may not have access to it.”

How do you find and research an abortion fund?

Piñeiro emphasized the importance of proper screening of a fund. It is possible for people with malicious intent to take advantage of vulnerable people who are pregnant, noting that anyone offering real help should have no problem providing proof of legitimacy. When in doubt, people seeking help should turn to websites such as ineedana.com and contact the organizations listed there.

Lopez also suggested that people start with funds in their state. However, depending on the form, finding an abortion fund could become more difficult now that Roe has been taken down and the situation has evolved. Lopez spoke about how states like Texas have restrictive laws that even target those who assist in any way with abortions. People living in a state with restrictive laws should investigate conditions with protection.

“If you come from a hostile state, your abortion fund may have had to interrupt services, and you may not reach anyone,” she said. Lopez also recommended the National Network of Abortion Funds as a vetted place to find help.

How do you donate to someone?

Lopez and Piñeiro emphasized support for already established unpublished ane pre-existing resources and networks to help people needing an abortion.

For those willing to donate, Vargas suggested seeking vetted funds through the National Network of Abortion Funds.

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