Who Needs Abortion Funding?

21 Dec

I have been very busy the past two weeks. I volunteer with the Abortion Access Network of Arizona. We recently told the abortion providers in Arizona that we’re available to assist their clients. The result has been that our phone has been ringing off the hook. There are currently only two of us handling intake calls. Needless to say, we’re overwhelmed. But the calls reaffirm the work that we’re doing. Here is a snap shot of the women we’ve funded in the past two weeks. (I’ve changed the names of the women to protect their privacy.)

Vanessa is leaving an abusive relationship. Her partner cleaned out their joint bank account when she left him, leaving Vanessa completely broke. She managed to scrape together money to pay for her abortion, but she needed $60 to pay for gas to drive into Phoenix from one of our small rural communities. We were able to help her get the gas money she needed to get back and forth.

Delores was 21 weeks pregnant – bumping right up against the legal limit for abortion in Arizona. She was getting a late term abortion because she didn’t know she was pregnant until 20 weeks. The birth control method she uses eliminates her period. The only clue about pregnancy was the weight gain. We helped Delores pay for her abortion, as well as gave her money for gas and helped connect her with housing, since she, too, had to drive to Phoenix from a small, rural community.

Several of the women who have called are unemployed. They have all told us that they have other children to support and just cannot afford another child right now.

Every one of the women we have spoken to has a different story to tell. But the consistent theme in all of their stories is that they are making a responsible decision about their health, and doing the best they can to support their families. Antis love to portray abortion patients as slutty, irresponsible people who have no thoughts about their decision. That is a blatant lie. Every single one of the people our fund has helped have put a lot of thought into their decision to get an abortion. The fact is that we are in tough economic times, and lots of people are down on their luck. And I’m very grateful that our abortion fund is able to assist folks.

That being said, our fund is already out of money and it’s only the middle of the month. I know that other funds have similar experiences. It’s difficult to tell folks that you can’t help them because you’re out of money. We’re planning monthly fundraisers for the year of 2012, and we’re very excited to participate in NNAF‘s national bowl-a-thon in April. We’re slowly getting more volunteers to join our fund – but I think you can see why we’re feeling overwhelmed. There’s just so much work to do.

If you’re a reader in Arizona and you’d like to help share the work, AANA would love to hear from you. Please visit our website to find out how you can join our team.

If you’ve been volunteering for an abortion fund for a while, how have you dealt with a call when you’ve had to tell a client that your fund is out of money? I would love to hear your stories.


3 Responses to “Who Needs Abortion Funding?”

  1. Amanda December 21, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    I volunteer for an abortion fund and I’ve experienced the “out of money” situation during a short term basis—it is a bummer, but we have a plan for what to do.

    As a volunteer, we take weekly shifts and have a budget for that week. So, if we run out of money for that week, we have a few options for our callers: if their time frame is somewhat flexible, they could call back next week when the budget is replenished. Or, we can check with our volunteer supervisor/person better acquainted with our overall budget picture and see if we can get special permission to go over budget, though we really try not to do that. A third choice is to do collaborative funding with one of two other funds geographically near us—when they have extra they help us out, when we have extra, we help them out. In really tough cases (for very expensive and/or late term abortions) we might try collaborative funding through the National Network of abortion funds.

    We also make sure we’ve helped the caller think through all other potential funding sources (is there anyone you can borrow money from, odd jobs you could do, possession you could sell, a bill you could put off) but those are often such horribly tough choices and we don’t want to encourage people to get stuck in a cycle of debt or choose between an abortion and, say, heat or groceries. But we try to help the caller at least think of every possibility. We also do everything we can to connect her to resources that might cover her abortion—i.e., seeing if she can get onto the state insurance in time that covers abortion, or seeing if she is eligible for a special service (i.e., in my city, if you a minor and get a judicial bypass, there is a hospital that will do your abortion for free!)

    I’ve never experienced the feeling of the whole fund being out of money. I’ve always had the luxury of knowing that next week, the budget will replenish and we can start helping again. I can only imagine how frustrating and helpless it must feel to be completely dry.

  2. Freewomyn December 27, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

    Amanda, thank you so much for the insight about how EMA handles intake. It gives us some good ideas for AANA.


  1. What We’ve Been Reading & Watching « Politics Power Sex - December 23, 2011

    […] What We’ve Been Reading & Watching December 23, 2011 tags: News by Gina There’s a lot we could recount in our Holiday News Digest.  Let’s start with an idea for anyone looking for a last minute gift – Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa – or even a late Solstice gift.  Donate to an Abortion Fund in the name of a pro-choice friend: Find your local fund here, and read about the women the new Arizona fund helps here. […]

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