Abortion funds are in the spotlight with the likely ending of Roe v. Wade – 3 conclusions about what they do


(The Conversation is an independent, nonprofit source of news, analysis, and commentary from academic experts.)

Gretchen E. Ely, University of Tennessee

(THE CONVERSATION) Donations to abortion funds reportedly surge following the leak of a draft US Supreme Court ruling on abortion that signaled the imminent end of legal abortion in much of from the country.

There are at least 90 of these funds – donor-funded nonprofits that are often made up of volunteers who help people get abortions they can’t afford by cutting costs and helping with travel , accommodation and other services.

Abortion is already inaccessible in many cases due to restrictive laws in states like Texas and Mississippi that have left many counties without any abortion clinics. Abortion funds typically partner with providers to help cover some procedural costs on behalf of the patient, and some funds cover associated expenses such as travel, childcare, and overnight accommodations. .

As a professor of social work who studies reproductive health care, I conducted research that reviewed thousands of records of patients who applied for assistance from abortion funds to help pay for a procedure they couldn’t afford.

Here are three main findings from the studies I’ve conducted so far:


1. The people assisted are probably relatives

About 20% of people helped by these funds were between the ages of 11 and 19, according to studies I conducted using national data collected from 2010 to 2015. In contrast, only 14% of all people who have abortions belong to this age group.

As is the case with all abortion patients, more than half of the people assisted by the abortion funds we studied were in their twenties. Only 18% of them were in their thirties, compared to 25% of all patients.

My team also found that only 60% of abortion fund patients were single, compared to 86% of all patients. And we determined that 50% of them were black, compared to 36% overall.

Nearly 60% of patients assisted by abortion funds have children. About 41% have one or two children, compared to 46% of all people who have had an abortion, and 18% of abortion fund patients have had three or more children, compared to 14% overall.

These results suggest that young parents of color were disproportionately affected by barriers to abortion during this period.

2. Not all costs are covered

My research team found that abortion funds did not cover the full cost to patients, or even the full gap between the cost and what they could afford.

Patients typically asked for help paying for a procedure they thought would cost more than $2,200, while patients could only pay an average of $535. Abortion funds, in turn, were able to pledge an average of $256 on behalf of each patient.

We also determined that abortion costs were highest for patients between the ages of 11 and 13, at just over an average of $4,000. These patients had on average only $616 to pay these bills and they received an average pledge of $414.

I also participated in another project that analyzed more detailed data collected from 2001 to 2015 from an abortion fund operating in Florida. These patients faced an average procedural cost of nearly $1,000 and received an average of $140 in assistance from the fund.

When patients find it difficult to pay for an abortion, it can delay the procedure. This, in turn, tends to make it even more expensive.

3. Other barriers include travel and childcare

Patients seeking help from abortion funds face many barriers in addition to paying medical bills that prevent them from getting the care they seek. Another study I conducted found that the typical abortion fund patient faced two of these barriers.

Common challenges included juggling parenting responsibilities and finding the time and means to travel long distances to get to a provider, including when mandatory waiting periods require multiple visits. Patients also faced unemployment or underemployment and precarious housing.

For full-time students, it might be difficult to schedule appointments that would not interfere with their studies.

More help requests expected

The National Network of Abortion Funds, an umbrella group, estimates abortion funds helped about 56,000 patients in 2019, the most recent data available.

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the judges will leave it up to states to decide whether abortion will be allowed within their borders. Abortion access will likely decline, increasing costs in many places for patients who will need to travel to another state.

Abortion funds, in turn, are likely to receive more requests for help. These groups say they plan to respond by helping as many people as possible.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article here: https://theconversation.com/abortion-funds-are-in-the-spotlight-with-the-likely-end-of-roe-v-wade-3-findings-about-what – they-do-182636.

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