Volunteering with an abortion fund enables me to pride myself on helping women access the abortions they need. Whether it’s helping with $50 or $450, funds do everything we can to fill in the gap between how much an abortion costs and how much a woman can afford to pay. But what happens when the gap is too big? When you know that no matter how much national fundraising you do, the woman you’re trying to help just won’t be able to have an abortion?
Getting an abortion is not just a matter of covering the cost. There is an entire system of inequity at play here–not enough clinics that provide later abortion services, no federal funding for most abortion procedures, lack of sex education that keeps women from knowing signs of pregnancy or the best birth control options, a complex web of anti-abortion laws designed to complicate, restrict and ultimately deter women from having abortions. The list goes on and on. Abortion funds are supposed to help women navigate this system, and when we can’t help someone access the care she desperately needs, well, it feels pretty shitty.
Angela (name changed) was one such a case. She called our hotline when she was well over the legal limit for an abortion–over 24 weeks. She had been trying to have an abortion for two months, but because of various medical conditions and never having enough money, she was turned away from many local providers. She’s in a conundrum. She needs to have an abortion. The only provider that will see her is 5000 miles away, and that abortion is $9000, not to mention travel and lodging. Angela couldn’t afford to feed her children last week. Where will she come up with $9000?
There is no easy solution here. I wish I had a big bag of abortion money and could grant Angela the abortion of her dreams. Unfortunately, Angela couldn’t get that abortion. I wish I could’ve called Congress and put her on speaker phone. I wish I could call Henry Hyde and have him listen to her cry. My heart aches for her and for all women in her situation. Until politicians hear the voices and experiences of women like her, restrictions on this legal medical procedure will continue to roll out of Capitol Hill and states across the nation. Until the broader pro-choice movement embraces later abortion access as a matter of justice and equality, Angela and all women in her situation will continue to suffer, lacking the ability to get the care they need.