Thanks to BAF’s amazing community, our annual Fund-a-Thon raised over $100,000 for abortion access in Maryland. We are deeply grateful for this support. Our Fund-a-Thon usually raises the money we need to support our callers for a full year. Unfortunately, this is not a typical year.
In January, the network of nonprofits that support abortion funding across the United States experienced a devastating shift in how a group of anonymous philanthropists provide funding to pregnant individuals who are unable to afford abortions. These donors fund the Justice Funds, a muti-million dollar program jointly managed and administered by the National Abortion Federation and Planned Parenthood.
Unconscionably, these changes come in the midst of a global pandemic, when we know individuals across the United States are facing financial turmoil and uncertainty.
Typically, the Justice Funds program will provide the most significant financial support to an abortion patient who cannot afford the full cost of their procedure, and then smaller local funds like BAF will work to close a patient’s remaining funding gap. The abortion funding network is complex, consisting of more than 70 local abortion funds working cooperatively across the country.
In the wake of these 2021 funding cuts, the Justice Funds are no longer a reliable funding source for pregnant individuals, especially those who need to cover the astronomical costs of later abortion procedures. A pregnant person in these situations can easily have out-of-pocket expenses of more than $10,000 due to medical, child care, transportation, and other logistical costs.
As this recent Washington Post article highlights, since January, our callers at BAF have faced increasingly large funding gaps.
"In Maryland, the Baltimore Abortion Fund has seen a jump in the number of callers who are at least 24 weeks pregnant — from four cases in the first quarter of 2020 to 15 cases in the first quarter of 2021 — and is using reserve funds to accommodate them."
- BAF President, Jaylynn Johnstone
At the current pace, the unmet funding need of our callers will total over $500,000 by the end of the year, nearly six times our current annual program budget. The people who call BAF’s helpline may soon no longer be able to rely on BAF to cover the remainder of their medical bills after Justice Funds are committed.
Reproductive justice is so much more than just being pro-choice. According to SisterSong, reproductive justice is the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities. People of color often face the highest barriers exercising this human right. And one of those barriers is access to reproductive health care and abortion.
In the wake of ongoing resistance to using federal dollars to cover these essential health care costs, continued private investment in abortion access is vital. Black and brown patients are considerably more likely to be uninsured than white patients, which makes the financial burden much higher for these populations.
If we can no longer count on the same wealthy donors who pride themselves for their liberal, feminist, or so-called pro-choice values to step up and help us address the obvious financial needs of our callers, then we need new abortion champions – individuals and institutions willing to leverage their wealth to fight for the right to equitable, safe access to abortion care for everyone.
Reproductive justice is racial justice.
Individuals seeking abortions cannot continue to wait for the country’s anonymous Justice Funds donors to decide where or when to redistribute their wealth; they need their healthcare now. Donations to local abortion funds will ensure that these individuals have the most direct access to the financial assistance they need.
And if you are already a monthly sustainer, thank you! If you have the capacity to make an additional one-time gift to show solidarity with our callers right now, we welcome your support.
And please share the Washington Post article with your networks, so we can spread awareness and support local abortion funds.