Carolyn Williams and Ann Marie Brokmeier are case managers at the Baltimore Abortion Fund. Also contributing to this piece from BAF are Brigitte Winter and Lynn McCann.
Last month, the Supreme Court declined to block Texas’ restrictive 6-week abortion ban. And later this year, the same nine justices will decide whether to overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the U.S. exactly 49 years ago as of Jan. 22.
While the legal right to an abortion is vital, the truth is Roe has never been enough. We at the Baltimore Abortion Fund (BAF) continue to witness how systemic racism creates unnecessary obstacles to care, especially for people of color and those working to make ends meet. Financial, logistical and social barriers have always prevented marginalized people from actually getting abortion care. This is evident in Texas, in Mississippi and even in states like Maryland — where the right to an abortion is currently protected by state law.
That’s why BAF exists. For nearly eight years, our confidential helpline has connected thousands of people to the funding they need to access abortion health care in Maryland. Some of the people we serve are traveling from states with restrictive and illegal bans. Others are traveling to Maryland for third-trimester surgical abortions, a form of care that is only available at four clinics nationwide. But 54% of the people we serve are Maryland residents who still face significant barriers to access, despite our state’s legal protections.