There are no sanctuaries for abortion care, no matter what your state says

By Lynn McCann-Yeh and Porsha Pinder
For The Baltimore Sun • Jun 28, 2023 at 7:57 am

In the months following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, progressive cities and states across the country raced to establish themselves as “havens” or “sanctuaries” for people seeking abortion care. Twelve states, including Maryland, and Washington, D.C., have since passed laws to make abortion more accessible by strengthening legal protections, shielding providers and patients from litigation, and — in some cases — setting aside state funding for abortion seekers.

As an organization working to expand abortion access in one of these so-called safe havens, we can definitively say that putting our faith in sanctuary states is a mistake.

For many of the clients we work with, traveling for abortion care is a financial and logistical nightmare. Our average out-of- state caller has an abortion that costs $8,347, an expense that 87% of people living in restricted states will pay for out-of- pocket. This is especially shocking when you consider that more than half of Americans are unable to afford an unplanned expense of $1,000 or more. Many of our clients will have to call multiple sources of financial support — telling their personal stories over and over again — in order to fundraise the full cost of their care, sometimes up until the day of their appointments.

They also need to arrange travel, accommodation, meals and time off from work, which is often unpaid. Travel expenses can range from $50 for a bus ticket, to over $1,000 for flights and hotels. Many of our clients have never left their hometown before — let alone their state — and are suddenly forced to board a plane or drive across the country for the first time. On top of the stress of being away from home, there’s the fear of what will happen when they return. Many will live with the constant worry that someone will find out about their abortion and try to prosecute them for seeking medical care.

Even within the borders of sanctuary states, there are pervasive barriers to abortion access.

More than half of the clients we support are Maryland residents, who still must fight for access to care because of cost, transportation and other issues, despite their state protected legal rights. Over the last year, the Baltimore Abortion Fund has provided more than $400,000 in financial support to Marylanders who could not afford their care.

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  • Baltimore Fund
    published this page in Blog 2023-07-07 16:13:41 -0400