abortion funds are hanging on by a thread a year after dobbs

The fall of Roe v. Wade a year ago has made it more difficult for people in abortion-hostile states to access this crucial care. But ending a pregnancy is still an option, even if you live in the South, thanks in no small part to grassroots networks of abortion funds.

“One year later, abortion funds are fielding more calls than ever, and they are supporting more people than ever,” Oriaku Njoku, executive director of the National Network of Abortion Funds, said last week.

Abortion funds have been around for decades — long before the Supreme Court decided Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — because their work is vital. The groups help pay for costs associated with an abortion, assisting people with fewer resources access essential health care that wealthier people can obtain with relative ease. Some funds will help pay for the abortion procedure, while many others focus on the practical expenses that quickly add up, such as travel and accommodation.

But organizers have been forced to contend with the possibility that conservative lawmakers may try to criminalize every single aspect of abortion care, including efforts to provide financial aid.

“There’s a good chance they’ll come after people like us,” Chasity Wilson, executive director of the Louisiana Abortion Fund, said on a conference call.

Several states have already passed laws imposing prison time on medical professionals who perform an abortion outside of very narrow limits set by conservative lawmakers. Texas’ “bounty law” — which permits private citizens to sue their neighbors for helping someone get an abortion — is in effect after legal challenges against it failed, and it stands to inspire copycats.

Multiple groups told HuffPost they have been working closely with lawyers.

Several also said they were hiring more full-time staffers — in some cases double or triple their previous number — to carry a workload that has required new partnerships with more health care providers.

Njoku acknowledged that the logistics around the work of abortion funds are now “more complex.” The Supreme Court, having abandoned its 1973 landmark decision protecting abortion at the national level, transformed the U.S. into a state-by-state patchwork of abortion access practically overnight. People who may otherwise have simply needed help paying for a ride to an abortion clinic now have to cross state lines.

“So many of our clients — many of them have never left their county, let alone crossed state lines,” Serra Sippel, interim executive director of the Brigid Alliance, told HuffPost. Some have never flown in an airplane, and are suddenly tasked with organizing and paying for a trip that impacts the course of their lives.

The burden of travel translates to higher average costs. Some people are spending every dollar they have just to get to a clinic, making the work of financing abortion care even more critical.

“It feels often like our broader movement — philanthropy, government — are not understanding the magnitude of this crisis.”

– Chelsea Williams-Diggs, interim executive director of the New York Abortion Access Fund

Brigid Alliance, which focuses on later-term pregnancies, helped one patient who had to travel from Florida to New York. The organization provided $600 for round-trip plane fare, $300 for child care, $450 for a two-night stay at a hotel and $100 for food while traveling — a total of $1,450, which did not include the cost of the abortion procedure itself.

Typically, abortion funds operate with some combination of individual donations and grants from larger organizations or, post-Dobbs, from local governments. California, for example, announced late last year that it would put $20 million toward a fund that helps people access abortion in the state, even if they come from other states. And Megan Jeyifo, the executive director of the Chicago Abortion Fund, said the group was able to meet increased demand — it’s on track to spend $3 million this year, up from around $600,000 last year — thanks in part to support from the city.

But other funds are rapidly running dry, even after a spike in donations that followed last summer’s shock court decision.

Chelsea Williams-Diggs, interim executive director of the New York Abortion Access Fund, said the group was now providing about $1,000 per person on average. NYAAF is the only fund in all of New York state, putting immense pressure on Williams-Diggs, the only paid staffer. Eighty-five percent of their funding comes from donations — an unsustainable model that Williams-Diggs says puts the organization on track to run out of money by October.

“We are in a national crisis and abortion funds across the country are all feeling it,” Williams-Diggs told HuffPost. “It feels often like our broader movement — philanthropy, government — are not understanding the magnitude of this crisis. They’re not understanding just how bad things have gotten and, honestly, how bad things are going to continue to get.”

The DC Abortion Fund, one of the largest and oldest abortion funds in the country, has been overwhelmed by the increase in callers since Roe fell, said Jade Hurley, the fund’s communications manager. Like every other fund HuffPost spoke with, it has seen an increase in how much people are spending on average to receive abortion care. DCAF’s average pledge per person was $260 before Dobbs, but now it’s closer to $710 per person — a 173% increase.

Abortion fund volunteers are increasingly having to prepare callers before they tell them the full cost of obtaining their procedure. Hurley recalled one patient whose full abortion care cost — not including travel or lodging — was around $25,000.

“Our funding gap grew exponentially after Dobbs came down, [and] funds like ours found that our funds were drained much quicker,” Hurley said. “There really is a lack of secure abortion funding in this country right now.”

And patients are scared. They’re worried about criminalization and have more concerns about security, Hurley said. Some are afraid they’ll be pulled over by police and interrogated about their plans. Case managers at DC Abortion Fund report that it’s more and more common for callers to cry on the phone.

Dreith said she has noticed patients are far more likely to sign up for the first appointment they can find — even if it’s further away — out of concern that someone close to them will notice the pregnancy.

“A lot of times, we’re the only ones that they’re telling about their decision to have an abortion,” Jeyifo said, noting that people are not always aware whether someone in their social circle would support them.

Areas like California, New York, Illinois and Washington, D.C, have become safe havens for abortion care for people across the country, and funds in those areas have especially felt the strain of patient demand.

Much of the time, abortion is a simple procedure that can be performed in a clinic. But a small number of pregnant people end up needing the resources of a hospital — particularly those experiencing pregnancy complications that doctors in their home states are no longer legally permitted to address right away.

Seeking abortion care in a hospital drives up the cost. Hospital care makes up just 2% of the Chicago Abortion Fund’s callers, Jeyifo said, but around 20% of its expenditures.

Alison Dreith, partnerships director for the Midwest Access Coalition, said the group doubled the number of clients it helped from 2021 to 2022, and is now on track to set a whole new record, averaging 50 more clients per month than last year. Most of the increase comes from callers in the South, she said.

Similarly, around half of callers to the DC Abortion Fund come from Southern states like North Carolina, Florida and Georgia, although the fund caters primarily to patients from the District of Columbia, Virginia and Maryland. In the year since Roe was repealed, it has worked with 3,381 callers and given over $2.28 million for abortion care. With previous strongholds like North Carolina and Florida passing ever-stronger abortion bans, Hurley said the fund is bracing for an even bigger influx of callers.

As Wilson put it, Republican-led states keep “imagining and enacting” new, harsher ways to prevent people from ending a pregnancy. Each new law puts additional stress on abortion providers and funds that are often stretched thin just trying to serve their surrounding area.

“This work is hard,” Wilson said. “It takes a toll.”

In New York, NYAAF spent $1.7 million on behalf of 2,000 abortion seekers since the Dobbs decision — an increase of over 200% in donations from the year before. Most of their callers are from the area, but NYAAF has served patients from 29 states and Washington, D.C., as well as eight countries. Most of the group’s out-of-state callers are coming from places like Texas, Florida and Georgia, Williams-Diggs said.

It always feels like they’re on the brink of having to close up.

“We cannot claim New York as an access state when this entire apparatus feels dependent on a one-staff organization that’s running out of money,” Williams-Diggs said. “That doesn’t make sense. And we’re not unique. Abortion funds across the country are really struggling in this moment.”

Even those at funds that are more secure wonder about the future.

“When you’re doling out funding in the way that we have to,” Jeyifo said, “you’re not going to have enough one day. And people’s attention is not going to be on this for as long as it takes to fix it.”

<div class="js-react-hydrator" data-component-name="RelatedArticles" data-component-id="6654" data-component-props="{"index":42,"contentListType":"relatedArticles","blockTitle":"Related…","articlesList":[{"id":"6493b111e4b0c0ed59b029bf","editionId":"us","headline":"Abortion Is A Winning Issue For National Democrats. In These Southern States, It’s More Complicated.","url":"https://www.huffpost.com/entry/kentucky-louisiana-mississippi-abortion-governor-races_n_6493b111e4b0c0ed59b029bf","dek":"In Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi, Democratic candidates for governor are approaching abortion policy with extreme caution.","defaultImage":{"type":"hector","url":"https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/6493b36d22000060004566fd.jpg","queryParams":{"cache":"mnxxi7JxRL"},"width":2400,"height":1351,"credit":"Illustration: Damon Dahlen/HuffPost; Photos: AP, Getty Images","ops":""},"section":{"Id":"5576fe88e4b00a64381c1325","title":"Politics","url":"politics"},"lastPublished":"2023-06-22T13:00:02Z"},{"id":"649225f0e4b034601e8ca0cd","editionId":"us","headline":"GOP Senate Recruits Back The Same Extreme Abortion Positions That Cost The Party In 2022","url":"https://www.huffpost.com/entry/abortion-senate-republicans_n_649225f0e4b034601e8ca0cd","dek":"Republicans have a golden opportunity to win control of the Senate, but they’re already at risk of repeating a major error of their disappointing 2022 cycle.","defaultImage":{"type":"hector","url":"https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/649324de22000036004566a4.jpeg","queryParams":{"cache":"E5lywDluC3"},"width":4934,"height":3289,"credit":"via Associated Press","ops":""},"section":{"Id":"5576fe88e4b00a64381c1325","title":"Politics","url":"politics"},"lastPublished":"2023-06-21T16:36:57Z"},{"id":"6491eb94e4b041b71a124351","editionId":"us","headline":"Senate Confirms Prominent Abortion-Rights Lawyer To Be A Federal Judge","url":"https://www.huffpost.com/entry/julie-rikelman-abortion-rights-judge_n_6491eb94e4b041b71a124351","dek":"Julie Rikelman, who represented an abortion clinic in the landmark Supreme Court case that gutted Roe v. Wade, will now serve on a U.S. appeals court.","defaultImage":{"type":"hector","url":"https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/6491edef2500006d00ba6a9f.jpeg","queryParams":{"cache":"k1NWQ7Adxo"},"width":3590,"height":2452,"credit":"EVELYN HOCKSTEIN via Reuters","ops":""},"section":{"Id":"5576fe88e4b00a64381c1325","title":"Politics","url":"politics"},"lastPublished":"2023-06-21T15:44:22Z"},{"id":"6466387de4b06749be1229f3","editionId":"us","headline":"Trust In Supreme Court Fell To Lowest Point In 50 Years After Abortion Decision, Poll Shows","url":"https://www.huffpost.com/entry/poll-supreme-court-trust-falls-after-abortion-decision_n_6466387de4b06749be1229f3","dek":"The divide between Democrats and Republicans over support for abortion rights also was the largest ever in 2022, according to the General Social Survey.","defaultImage":{"type":"hector","url":"https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/646638c6260000610093d4e0.jpeg","queryParams":{"cache":"ncTopvvbvT"},"width":5902,"height":4000,"credit":"via Associated Press","ops":""},"section":{"Id":"5576fe88e4b00a64381c1325","title":"Politics","url":"politics"},"lastPublished":"2023-05-19T00:16:20Z"}],"showArticlesPics":true,"specialLayout":"","flags":[],"fullBleed":false,"options":{"theme":"featured","device":"desktop","editionInfo":{"id":"us","name":"U.S.","link":"https://www.huffpost.com","locale":"en_US"},"slideshowAd":{"scriptTags":[],"otherHtml":""},"slideshowEndCard":{"scriptTags":[],"otherHtml":""},"isMapi":false,"isAmp":false,"isVideoEntry":false,"isEntry":true,"isMt":false,"entryId":"6494d569e4b007604cf7ef86","entryPermalink":"https://www.huffpost.com/entry/abortion-funds-anniversary-roe-wade-dobbs_n_6494d569e4b007604cf7ef86","entryTagsList":"supreme-court,abortion,roe-v-wade,dobbs-v-jackson,abortion-funds,@us_huffpost_now","sectionSlug":"women","deptSlug":null,"sectionRedirectUrl":null,"subcategories":"politics","isWide":true,"headerOverride":null,"noVideoAds":false,"disableFloat":false,"isNative":false,"commercialVideo":{"provider":"custom","site_and_category":"us.women","package":null},"isHighline":false,"vidibleConfigValues":{"cid":"60afc111dcf87c2cd2f5d8bf","overrides":{"front_page_top_videos":{"desktop":"60b64354b171b7444beaff4d","mobileweb":"60b64354b171b7444beaff4d"},"top_media":{"desktop":"60b8e6bdc5449357a7ada147","mobile":"60b8e701c5449357a7ada2ee","iphone":"60b8e643cdd90620331bb1f6","ipad":"60b8e643cdd90620331bb1f6","androidphone":"60b8e699c5449357a7ada04c","androidtablet":"60b8e699c5449357a7ada04c"},"anthology":{"desktop":"60b8e616cdd90620331bb0ba","mobile":"60b8e671c5449357a7ad9f66","iphone":"60b8e643cdd90620331bb1f6","ipad":"60b8e643cdd90620331bb1f6","androidphone":"60b8e699c5449357a7ada04c","androidtablet":"60b8e699c5449357a7ada04c"},"content":{"desktop":"60b8e616cdd90620331bb0ba","mobile":"60b8e671c5449357a7ad9f66","iphone":"60b8e643cdd90620331bb1f6","ipad":"60b8e643cdd90620331bb1f6","androidphone":"60b8e699c5449357a7ada04c","androidtablet":"60b8e699c5449357a7ada04c"}},"playerUpdates":{"5668ae6ee4b0b5e26955d6a6":"60d2472d9340d7032ad7e443","56aa41bae4b091744c0440d8":"60e869dc7c5f3b17b6741b81","5841b2b5cc52c716ec6e5a7f":"60b8e355cdd90620331ba185","58b5e2b8d85a10302feee895":"60b64316b171b7444beafdb2","58b74698f78ced31417819ae":"60b8e5bec5449357a7ad9b52","58b74ccecebcea57e2c3a3d1":"60b8e5eac5449357a7ad9ca5","58cff690d85a100b9992bc39":"60b8e616cdd90620331bb0ba","58cffb3fb6d9b972a49a3c9d":"60b8e643cdd90620331bb1f6","58cffdd74d96935d7d6ec180":"60b8e671c5449357a7ad9f66","58d03a84f78ced6518eb2fa7":"60b643c82e76be41f112735c","592edf20e0fa177b0c26f7fd":"60b8e699c5449357a7ada04c","5b35266b158f855373e28256":"60b64354b171b7444beaff4d","5c116f29f79c4171d82b7c2a":"60b64440b171b7444beb040b","5c1170fc600c9a697bf0c6b9":"60b646102e76be41f1127ffc","5c47791afa1b317df8ae0c4f":"60b8e6bdc5449357a7ada147","5c477987a6b48b35f164773d":"60b8e701c5449357a7ada2ee","5c4779ee943c3c2a64f28371":"60b8e747cdd90620331bb861","5c477a26fcd67b26879bc7c2":"60b8e788c5449357a7ada67b","5d8921a78c3ae845f366c9b6":"60ae7be5f3a7c13a30417ff9","58b98b00ba82aa39a6534321":"60d0de7c9340d7032ad1146c","58b9d14cb6d9b96c9ec32af3":"60d0dec19340d7032ad115a0","58cff8eccebcea42931e0436":"60d0e005b627221e9d819d44","592edf5de0fa177b0c26f95b":"60d0e38fb627221e9d81adcf","58cff72fd85a100b9992c112":"60d0e447b627221e9d81b0da","56b4d34fe4b022697697c400":"60d2472d9340d7032ad7e443","60b8e4c0c5449357a7ad957d":"60e869dc7c5f3b17b6741b81"}},"connatixConfigValues":{"defaultPlayer":"ff7fdddc-5441-4253-abc4-f12a33fad58b","clickToPlayPlayer":"d014396e-b366-4c17-aeac-3ce906fa3fd0","videoPagePlayer":"f010447b-d244-4111-a314-7b4542ae4145","verticalPlayer":"e58cb05a-0bc8-4210-9108-fea82726c065"},"customAmpComponents":[],"ampAssetsUrl":"https://amp.assets.huffpost.com","videoTraits":null,"positionInUnitCounts":{"buzz_head":{"count":0},"buzz_body":{"count":0},"buzz_bottom":{"count":0}},"positionInSubUnitCounts":{"article_body":{"count":4},"blog_summary":{"count":0},"before_you_go_slideshow":{"count":0}},"connatixCountsHelper":{"count":0},"buzzfeedTracking":{"context_page_id":"6494d569e4b007604cf7ef86","context_page_type":"buzz","destination":"huffpost","mode":"desktop","page_edition":"en-us"},"tags":[{"name":"Supreme Court","slug":"supreme-court","links":{"relativeLink":"topic/supreme-court","permalink":"https://www.huffpost.com/topic/supreme-court","mobileWebLink":"https://www.huffpost.com/topic/supreme-court"},"relegenceSubjectId":4941764,"department":{"name":"Latest News","slug":"politics-news"},"section":{"title":"Politics","slug":"politics"},"topic":{"title":"Supreme Court","slug":"supreme-court","overridesSectionLabel":false},"url":"https://www.huffpost.com/news/topic/supreme-court"},{"name":"Abortion","slug":"abortion","links":{"relativeLink":"topic/abortion","permalink":"https://www.huffpost.com/topic/abortion","mobileWebLink":"https://www.huffpost.com/topic/abortion"},"section":{"title":"Women","slug":"women"},"topic":{"title":"Abortion","slug":"abortion","overridesSectionLabel":false},"url":"https://www.huffpost.com/topic/abortion"},{"name":"roe v wade","slug":"roe-v-wade","links":{"relativeLink":"topic/roe-v-wade","permalink":"https://www.huffpost.com/topic/roe-v-wade","mobileWebLink":"https://www.huffpost.com/topic/roe-v-wade"},"department":{"name":"Latest News","slug":"politics-news"},"section":{"title":"Politics","slug":"politics"},"topic":{"title":"Roe v. Wade","slug":"roe-v-wade","overridesSectionLabel":false},"url":"https://www.huffpost.com/news/topic/roe-v-wade"},{"name":"dobbs v jackson","slug":"dobbs-v-jackson","links":{"relativeLink":"topic/dobbs-v-jackson","permalink":"https://www.huffpost.com/topic/dobbs-v-jackson","mobileWebLink":"https://www.huffpost.com/topic/dobbs-v-jackson"},"url":"https://www.huffpost.com/topic/dobbs-v-jackson"},{"name":"abortion funds","slug":"abortion-funds","links":{"relativeLink":"topic/abortion-funds","permalink":"https://www.huffpost.com/topic/abortion-funds","mobileWebLink":"https://www.huffpost.com/topic/abortion-funds"},"url":"https://www.huffpost.com/topic/abortion-funds"}],"isLiveblogLive":null,"cetUnit":"buzz_body","bodyAds":["

\r\n\r\n HPGam.cmd.push(function(){\r\n\t\treturn HPGam.render(\"inline-1\", \"entry_paragraph_1\", false);\r\n });\r\n\r\n","

\r\n\r\n HPGam.cmd.push(function(){\r\n\t\treturn HPGam.render(\"inline-2\", \"entry_paragraph_3\", false);\r\n });\r\n\r\n","

\r\n\r\n HPGam.cmd.push(function(){\r\n\t\treturn HPGam.render(\"inline-infinite\", \"repeating_dynamic_display\", false);\r\n });\r\n\r\n"],"adCount":0}}”>

Go To Homepage

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *