Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Abortion funds may not be able to keep up with rising demands as more people travel out of state for the procedure.

Abortion providers in places like Pennsylvania and California are seeing an increase in the number of abortion patients traveling from other states, where the procedure is now banned or restricted.

The cost of abortion is rising for many of these patients, as people may have to travel farther to one of the 28 states or to Washington, DC, where abortion, at least for now, remains legal.

In the wake of the Supreme Court decision allowing states to decide whether and under what circumstances to legalize or ban abortions, abortion funds, charities that help people pay for abortion procedures, and sometimes other expenses such as the travel and accommodation they need to obtain an abortion – are facing new pressures.

Meanwhile, some abortion funds have closed in recent weeks in states like Texas and Alabama, and new ones have opened in states like Connecticut.

As a professor of social work who studies access to reproductive health care, I think it’s important to understand that state abortion bans and restrictions will increase the need for people to travel out of state for an abortion. This will cause more people to seek help from abortion funds, who in turn face new kinds of legal and financial pressures.

A funding boost

Shortly after the Supreme Court’s draft opinion was leaked in May 2022, heralding the overturning of Roe v. Wade, donors donated $1.5 million to abortion funds in one week.

When the actual ruling was issued on June 24, the National Network of Abortion Funds, which reports more than 90 members affiliated with abortion funds, received more than $3 million from 33,000 new donors.

The increase in anger-driven donations, which refers to anger-driven donations, continued. But the jump in donations may not keep up with people’s growing needs, abortion funding experts say.

Still unable to meet demand

Calls to abortion funds requesting help traveling out of state have spiked in Texas since September 2021, after the state banned abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.

In response to the Dobbs ruling, abortion funds expected a continued nationwide surge in requests for help.

This help is needed because approximately 75% of abortion patients are poor or low-income, and research shows that out-of-pocket abortion costs can account for approximately one-third of a patient’s average monthly income.

But even with the new influx of cash, the financial capabilities of abortion funds are limited.

The National Network of Abortion Funds reports that its member organizations helped nearly 82,000 people cover abortion costs during the 2019-2020 fiscal year. But that was only a third of the nearly 230,000 people who applied for money. Each person they helped received an average of $215.

One reason there is a gap between demand and availability is the high cost of an abortion. First trimester surgical abortions range from $455 to $955. Although some private health insurance companies cover abortion costs, most insurance, including Medicaid in most states, will not pay for it.

Two Women Wearing Masks Stand Over A Desk Littered With Papers And Answer A Landline Phone.
Employees answer phone calls at Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, Louisiana, which sees many abortion patients from Texas, in April 2022.
Francois Picard/AFP via Getty Images

High prices

My colleagues and I studied cases, representing the years 2010 to 2015, of patients who received help from a national abortion fund that prioritized caring for people who were near the gestational limit over when they could have an abortion. We found that the average cost of the procedure for these patients was more than $2,200.

In the study, the abortion fund was able to give these patients an average of almost $260 to help with the cost of the abortion procedure.

Patients in the same study also received nearly $800, on average, in aid from other sources, such as family, friends, or other abortion funds. However, even with this extra help, patients were still about $600 short of the cost of the procedure.

When patients have to raise money for abortions, the procedure is often delayed, resulting in increased costs because an abortion becomes more complicated and medically expensive later in pregnancy.

Our research on two different state and national abortion funds found that these organizations most often helped parents in their 20s, who were already raising an average of two children. More than 50% of the people who received money from these abortion funds identified as black, while about 25% identified as white.

People in rural areas may especially need to seek help from abortion funds, as they often have to travel farther from home to have the procedure. Interviews I conducted with Appalachian residents in 2019 revealed that people in the rural region had difficulty obtaining reproductive health care, including contraception or abortion, due to issues such as a shortage of regional health care providers.

Kathy Hochul Stands At A Podium, In Front Of A Screen That Says
New York Governor Kathy Hochul spoke on July 12, 2022 to announce more funding for abortion and invite businesses to move to the state.
Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Whats Next

Several major companies, including Apple and Disney, say they will pay some expenses for employees who need to travel for abortions. But most of the people who can’t afford an abortion aren’t full-time employees of a big company.

With less than half of states banning or planning to impose new restrictions on abortion, staff at abortion funds in places like Texas may fear that their work will result in prison, because it’s currently unclear whether it’s a crime to help abortionists. Texans to pay for an out-of-state abortion.

Texas had an existing law that triggered a near-total ban on abortion 30 days after Roe was overturned, which will also allow citizens to sue anyone who helps someone have an abortion. As of now, Texas clinics have stopped performing abortions.

Texas reverted to another pre-Roe law that criminalized abortion with five years in prison. For now, the Texas Supreme Court has said that this law can go back into effect.

However, some experts have raised concerns that abortion fund employees or volunteers, both inside and outside of Texas, could face criminal penalties for “aiding and abetting” those seeking abortions as new state bans are implemented. about abortion.

Legal experts say states cannot bar residents from traveling out of state for abortions, though Missouri lawmakers proposed legislation earlier this year that attempted to do just that.

The murky legal landscape is not expected to prevent abortion funding from helping patients pay for abortions. But it can scare or confuse abortion seekers and create uncertainty as they try to figure out where to go for help.

Nation World News Desk
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