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Funds that help low-income people pay for abortions are seeing a sharp uptick in donations

Samantha Fields May 5, 2022
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Abortion-rights activists and anti-abortion activists hold protest signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court. Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

Funds that help low-income people pay for abortions are seeing a sharp uptick in donations

Samantha Fields May 5, 2022
Abortion-rights activists and anti-abortion activists hold protest signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court. Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images
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Since the draft of the Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe versus Wade leaked supporters of abortion rights have been organizing protests around the country. Some have also been donating to abortion funds, which provide support to people who can’t afford the procedure. There are at least 90 such funds around the country.

Insurance often doesn’t cover the abortions, which are expensive and often cost around $500 to $800 — sometimes more. Many people can’t afford to pay out of pocket.

Mary Ziegler, a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, says that’s where abortion funds come in.

“There is no federal funding for abortion, the Hyde Amendment prevents that. So funds ensure that people have money for things like the actual abortion procedure to transportation and lodging,” said Zeigler.

That last piece—helping people pay for transportation and lodging in addition to the medical costs—has become increasingly important in the last few years, as more states have passed more restrictive abortion laws and many clinics have closed.

Now, Ziegler says that with it looking like the Supreme Court is about to overturn Roe v. Wade, “The challenge for abortion funds is getting more complicated because it’s going to involve people needing resources not just to travel within their states, but to travel outside of their state and sometimes outside of their region.”

That’s already happening in Texas according to Briana McLennan, a social worker with the Texas Equal Access Fund which primarily serves people of color, many of whom are low income.

Ever since Texas passed a law banning abortions after 6 weeks, “most of our clients are going out of state,” said McLennan.

“The cost is definitely something that we’ve seen, that has changed a lot it’s very expensive, very expensive,” said McLennan.

The cost will only get more expensive if Roe is overturned and Texas — and neighboring states — ban abortion entirely. That’s a point that many supporters of abortion rights have been emphasizing over the last couple of days.

Debasri Ghosh at the National Network of Abortion Funds says there’s been an unprecedented spike in donations since the draft opinion came out.

“In the 36 hours after the leak, we saw nearly … 20,000 people donating … more than $1.5 million for abortion funds,” said Ghosh.

Many small, local fun are also seeing big increases. Alyssa Bernhardt volunteers with Abortion Care for Tennessee and when she logged into the fund’s email account the other day, “I was absolutely floored by the number of emails that we had received. We’ve received, probably like 450 donations, totaling almost $30,000,” said Bernhardt.

That’s more money in 36 hours, she says, than the fund had raised in the three years that it’s been around.

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