Abortion funds have been navigating restrictive state laws for years by helping pregnant people travel to clinics across state lines, booking their hotel stays, arranging their child care and more, all so patients can obtain a procedure that has become increasingly harder to access in the U.S.
But with roughly half of states likely to ban or severely restrict abortion now that the Supreme Court has struck down Roe v. Wade, funds are gearing up to meet an unprecedented level of need — and have already raised millions of dollars in the week since the court’s ruling.
Debasri Ghosh, the managing director of the National Network of Abortion Funds, a membership organization for nearly 100 local, independent groups that raise money for people to get abortions, said that while abortion funds are “uniquely equipped” to navigate a post-Roe America — they’ve been helping people who otherwise couldn’t afford care for decades — they are also facing an “overwhelming amount of inquiries” from volunteers, media, donors and people who want to know what this means for them.
“It’s a heartbreaking time,” Ghosh said in an interview with MarketWatch. “In many ways, abortion funds are seeing a lot of confusion from callers. Abortion is still legal in many states, so they’ve been doing a lot of education and clearing up misinformation about where abortion is legal and where it is not, and supporting callers in states that have lost legal clinical access to figure out their options to get care.”
National Network of Abortion Funds
The National Network of Abortion Funds has also been directing people to a donation page that disperses funds directly to its members. As of Thursday morning, the organization had raised approximately $6.2 million from over 64,000 donors via its ActBlue page since the fall of Roe, according to Ghosh.
In the three days after Politico published a leaked draft opinion in May showing the Supreme Court’s intent to overturn Roe, by comparison, the ActBlue page garnered $1.3 million in donations, a spokesperson for the National Network of Abortion Funds said.
Despite the stress of dealing with a crisis, it’s been heartening to see the groundswell of support, Ghosh said.
“We are really trying to get across the message that this is the long game,” Ghosh said. “We need people in it for the long haul.”
What’s more, paying for pregnant people to travel to out-of-state abortion clinics could be an increasingly pricey endeavor, since the costs of airfare, gas and lodging have all gone up amid the worst inflation in four decades.
Prices for an abortion have also risen in recent years: One recent study examining median patient charges for abortion between 2017 and 2020 found that the median charge for medication abortion increased by 13% to $560, while the median charge for a first-trimester procedural abortion increased more than 20% to $575. The proportion of facilities accepting insurance for abortions decreased over that period.
“ ‘We need people in it for the long haul.’”
And for some, that sum could feel impossible. A Bankrate survey last year found that one in four Americans have no emergency savings, and women were more likely to report that they would be unable to cover three months’ worth of expenses. Additionally, the kind of patient who gets an abortion is often poor, in their 20s, and already a parent, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights. That means they may be even more strapped for cash.
“What will the need actually be in this new landscape, taking into account both the reality that more people will need to travel and the higher cost of doing so?” Ghosh said. “This is why we look at abortion access inside of a broader lens of reproductive, racial and economic justice — because all of these issues are connected, and we know we need solutions to address them.”
“We’re trying to just mobilize as much funding as we can to support callers and their needs,” Ghosh added.