The increase in needs comes as unemployment reaches new heights.
Abortion funds provide money and other forms of assistance to patients seeking an abortion, particularly to help cover the cost of the procedure itself as well as associated costs such as transportation, child care. ‘children and hotel stays, because for many American patients, having an abortion involves traveling long distances to clinics and multi-day processes due to state laws.
The Tampa Bay Abortion Fund reported a 30% increase in callers in April from March, and the Chicago Abortion Fund reported a 35% increase in callers in March and April from February, marking a total increase in year on year by more than 140%. . The Chicago fund notes that the annual increase began before the pandemic, in part due to an increase in restrictive laws around Illinois, but recently it has seen an increase in the number of callers who needed the total price of the funded procedure, rather than a simple percentage.
Fund Texas Choice and Women Have Options in Ohio report that they have had to increase their spending and funding since the pandemic struck in March. Other funds, like the New Orleans Abortion Fund, have become more proactive, increasing awareness and advertising so patients can access care.
These increases in needs come as the country faces historic unemployment rates, which means people are less able to pay for unforeseen costs such as those associated with accessing an abortion. And while anti-abortion lawmakers have struggled to shut down access for years, the pandemic has sparked new fights as some state lawmakers seek to labeling abortion as a non-essential procedure.
“All of this, plus the worst unemployment since the Great Depression, means people who might not have needed to appeal to an abortion fund a month ago are now facing instability. and economic uncertainty, new difficulties affecting their parenting options and a landscape more hostile to their reproductive choices. As a result, the need for funds for abortion is only increasing, “told ABC News Yamani Hernandez, executive director of the National Network of Abortion Funds, which serves as the umbrella organization for local funds.
Hernandez noted that the pandemic has struck in the middle of the nation’s annual fundraising campaign, which was expected to raise $ 2 million, so funds are even more difficult. Even so, she said, “Abortion funds know what it means to close the gaps in a public health crisis, and that is what we will continue to do now.”
In Kentucky, one of many states that only have one abortion clinic, the state the attorney general called on abortion providers to stop providing care amid the coronavirus pandemic in March. Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat, vetoed a bill Pushed by Republican lawmakers in late April, it would have given Attorney General Daniel Cameron the power to ban abortion procedures during the outbreak.
“Kentucky’s anti-abortion laws laid the groundwork for even more restricted access during the pandemic,” Meg Sasse Stern, director of the Kentucky Health Justice Network’s support fund, told ABC News.
The Kentucky Health Justice Network also reported an increase in calls since March, adding that many callers said they were delaying access to abortion care due to concerns and practical barriers created by the coronavirus.
“Transportation and child care remain the biggest hurdles Kentucky patients face, and having to overcome those hurdles has caused patients to delay care,” said Stern.
Typically, the Kentucky Health Justice Network can help patients by driving them to their appointments, but Stern said that due to the coronavirus “drivers can no longer travel to rural areas to pick up patients at their homes. appointments, which creates more challenges for the caller.
Stern also expects the increase in as-needed calls to continue through the summer with shelter-in-place orders, “just as we see after a winter storm.”
“Even during a pandemic, people will always need abortions, and no matter when or why people need help accessing abortions, we’re here to support them,” Stern said.