part of Funding The Frontlines: A Roadmap To Supporting Health Equity Through Abortion Access
Now is the Time for Philanthropy to Step Up & Support Community Access and Care
For too long abortion funds have been receiving inadequate funding to support the necessary and creative infrastructure needed to ensure communities can access abortion care. We are at the frontlines of this work, directly working with pregnant people in need of resources and support, and we are urging for deeper and long-term financial investment of our organizations to sustainably grow and meet the needs that are drastically increasing due to the hostile reproductive rights, health, and justice landscape in the U.S.
While it is obvious that a handful of foundations are committed to advancing health equity and improving women’s health, much of their time, interest, and dollars invested too narrowly define what barriers exist in accessing reproductive and sexual health care. The philanthropic sector’s continued silence about abortion has impacted many people, including transgender and gender expansive abortion seekers, who often bear the brunt of philanthropies inequitable practices. The struggle to contextualize abortion services as part of essential health care services or to center transgender and gender expansive abortion seekers, means many communities are overlooked in their giving.
In 2018, data provided by Funders for LGBTQ issues reported that US-based foundations awarded $28.6 million focused on trans and gender expansive communities. Of that total, less than ¼ ($6.3 million) targeted issues related to health and wellbeing for trans and gender expansive people, and an even smaller amount of money was specified for abortion care.
In 2021, The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy released an Abortion Access Fact Sheet that highlighted the overall financial investment of foundations in reproductive rights issues between 2015-2019. Nearly $1.7 billion was poured into the issue and yet less than 2% reached abortion funds.
Abortion funds exist to fill the financial gaps that government and private insurance companies have failed to support for decades due to abortion bans and restrictions such as the Hyde Amendment. Hostile states financially prohibit city and state resources from being allocated to support procedure expenses and any advertising of abortion care. In Arizona, anti-abortion laws include provisions barring any state-funded organization from even mentioning or referring to abortion services or their resources will be revoked. In Florida, we see state and city dollars, equally at least $60 million being allocated to fake anti-abortion clinics, nonprofit organizations with the primary aim of keeping people from having an abortion. While in Arizona, anti-abortion laws include provisions barring any state-funded organization from even mentioning or referring to abortion services or their resources will be revoked.
Funding our work has always been extremely challenging and we do not have the resources to continue carrying the labor demands needed to offer support within the mass healthcare crisis that our country has been experiencing.
Who Are Abortion Funds?
Abortion Funds emerged to address the economic injustices within marginalized communities. In our network, we strive to center leadership reflective of the communities we serve, specifically those who are Black, Brown, and Indigenous. We know that abortion care is out of reach for many because of financial barriers. Abortion care inaccessibility due to geographical landscape, clinic deserts, and gestational bans are the next top barriers. Without insurance coverage and government assistance, folks are expected to pay anywhere from six hundred to over two thousand dollars for a first or early second-trimester procedure. Abortion care later in pregnancy is even more costly.
The financial need a patient faces extends beyond the cost of their care. This is where many funds step in to offer Practical Support which includes transportation, hotel stays, travel airfare, meals, childcare fees, and other expenses that may prohibit a patient reaching their appointment.
Abortion funding work is often round-the-clock support, especially for patients who need to travel alone. The majority of funds are under-resourced and powered by volunteer labor. Sometimes these conditions can contribute to demanding and over-worked environments or not enough people power is available to properly keep the fund services in motion. Some funds have 1-3 staff members but even still that is not enough to distribute the amount of existing labor while also preparing for the major health crisis looming ahead. Access to full reproductive healthcare services is frightfully declining and our organizations need financial investment to remain sustainable.
What Are Abortion Funds Demanding and Needing in This Moment?
As leaders of abortion funds, we need the philanthropy sector to recognize the urgency of this moment and what’s to come. We call on funders and foundations to invest in our infrastructure with unrestricted grant funding so that we may have the necessary resources to build up capacity with staff. We ask philanthropy to rethink the grant application process that has mostly been burdensome on abortion funds when labor capacity is already limited. Our priority is the work on the ground and a grant report that takes days or weeks to prepare is taking precious time away from our community service.
In January of 2020, abortion funds released a list of demands to ground the public, elected officials, lawmakers, and funders in the reality of abortion access and what abortion funds need to ensure we can thrive and continue supporting patients as we all begin to navigate more bans and restrictions across the country. Florida and Arizona have both passed legislation to ban abortion after 15 weeks. This places our states in an even more urgent race to help pregnant people secure the funding they need, as gestational bans result in an increased financial pressure. Our time limit to help patients has been severely undermined and we must be able to provide support with higher medical bill coverage in-state before the 15-week gestational limit or support folks with a higher expense to travel out of state for their abortion care, which is often a logistically unrealistic option for many people.
Philanthropy must reassess how they can quickly support abortion access and reproductive justice in our country. The anticipated SCOTUS decision on Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization will make or break individual states’ power to enact more bans and restrictions. In Texas, we are witnessing abortion funds and their leadership being aggressively targeted in lawsuits. Anti-abortion lawmakers see the power of abortion funds and are doing all they can stop us. The criminalization of abortion care has always existed, however, now we will begin to feel the impact on a grand scale.
Philanthropy, do your part in supporting our work so that we can continue aiding our communities. People deserve to have access to the full scope of essential reproductive healthcare services they desire, and abortion funds will always find a way to make it happen.
|Stephanie Lorain Piñeiro (she/her/ella)
Florida Access Network
|Eloisa Lopez (she/ella) (she/her/ella)
Pro-Choice Arizona &
the Abortion Fund of Arizona
A convenient way to get the latest news and resources that help grantmakers maximize the impact on equity and justiceSign me up for ROUNDUP now