This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. We’ve been sharing the history of Roe, and we’ll continue to be talking about Roe throughout the month. But I thought we could take a quick time out from the history lessons and talk about how we can all honor Roe right now – today – all year.
One of the biggest challenges for patient access to abortion is funding. Economic access intersects race, class, age, gender, and sexual orientation lines. While an abortion in the first trimester may only cost $350 – $500 (and I say this very loosely), that’s still a lot of money to obtain. As patients struggle to raise that money, the cost increases the longer they wait – and so does the need for more financial help.
Arizona has some of the worst abortion laws in the US. We seem to like setting the example for other states to follow. We had three anti-abortion bills pass in 2012, and the bill that has received the most national attention is the 20-week gestation ban. The bill provides a crazy definition of when gestation starts, so the bill has an injunction while the courts debate when pregnancy actually occurs. However, when the bill goes into effect, many patients will have to travel out of state to get an abortion – which will only increase the cost and difficulty of obtaining their health care.
The proof is in the pudding. Abortion Access Network of Arizona answered over 1,000 phone calls in 2012. Fortunately, we were able to combine resources with the National Network of Abortion Funds and other funding organizations to help as many patients as possible. For example:
Susan has 7 children, ranging in age from 1 to 17, three of whom are disabled. Susan is currently unemployed and a single parent. Her child support has just been cut off since her ex-husband recently lost his job. Susan’s 17-year-old daughter has an 8-month-old child, both of whom also live with Susan and are dependent on her for their food and lodging.
Susan’s abortion cost was $450. AANA was able to help Susan with a portion of this fee.
Here’s another patient we were able to serve:
Jolie was tricked by anti-abortion clinic into coming to Phoenix from Kingman for an abortion. Fortunately, Jolie found her way to an actual abortion clinic after leaving the fake clinic. Jolie was 19 weeks pregnant when she contacted AANA, and she was $150 short of her total fee of $1,400. Without assistance from AANA, Jolie could have had to leave the state of Arizona in order to obtain her abortion services.
I’m sharing these stories to make the point that we have a lot of work to do to preserve Roe and help patients get around the economic challenges that make abortion access so difficult.
This is where you can step in and make a real difference. Why not honor Roe by donating $40 to your local abortion fund or the National Network of Abortion Funds? I’m, of course, biased towards the Abortion Access Network of Arizona. But if you visit the NNAF website you can find a list of all the local funds, as well as a link to Abortion Support Network in the UK, who are helping women from Ireland get to England for their abortions. There are also funds in Canada, Mexico, and Holland. Abortion funding is an international issue.
So let’s do this. Let’s honor the Roe legacy. If you don’t have $40 to mimic the anniversary years, donate what you can, and donate in the honor of Roe. Let’s keep the pro-choice movement rolling forward, just like we have for over 40 years.
* Patient stories are shared with permission. The names have been changed to protect patient privacy.
Serena is a freelance writer who enjoys baking, protesting, and playing with little dogs.