September is Abortion Access Month. As it turns out, it takes quite a bit to get an abortion in this country, and accessing safe and legal abortion care is becoming more difficult. One of the biggest hurdles for folks seeking abortion care is the fact that, for many, it is quite simply unaffordable. Who are the folks that cannot afford abortion care?
The National Network of Abortion Funds helps to bridge the gap between a legal abortion and the ability to afford one by fighting laws that undermine access to safe and legal abortion care while helping folks who need abortions today.
The Hyde Amendment means that low-income folks who have their health care covered by Medicaid have to come up with a way to pay for their procedures out-of-pocket, even though the fact that they are on Medicaid means they’re already having trouble making ends meet. Women of color, who are disproportionately poor, bear the brunt of these restrictions. Queer, trans, gender non-conforming, and genderqueer folks – also disproportionately poor– bear a heavy part of this weight. (And yes, trans folks might need an abortion, and reproductive health care is indeed a trans health issue.)
The National Network of Abortion Funds’ annual survey shows that on average, funds are only able to help one of every seven people who contact them for help. The funds are to bridge the gap between what patients have and the cost of an abortion. This process includes determining whether the person lives in a state that covers abortion care via Medicaid (only seventeen do); how much the procedure will cost, how much the person has, and what they could sell to come closer to that amount; whether there is a nearby clinic, and if it requires a waiting period, a mandatory ultrasound, or any other non-medically necessary procedure; whether they have a way to get to the clinic, or a place to stay if it’s a two-day procedure; and details about childcare, elder care, and work schedules.
These are just the logistical concerns. This gap exists because we (as a society) do not treat abortion as health care. We do not take it seriously as a social and medical need. And we devalue the experiences of millions for whom this gap is the difference between getting the care they need and having it unavailable to them.
We must call for an end to the bans on federal funding for abortion care. An abortion costs an average of $451 in the first trimester and can sometimes cost $3,000 or more. This is an impossible sum for many people. Every pregnant person must decide whether to bring a child into the world. We cannot continue to allow religious extremists and politicians to interfere in a family’s decision about how many children to have and when to have them.
That is why this month is Abortion Access Month. September 30 is the 38th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, and September 28th is the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion. During this month, be motivated to end the deep disparity created by politicians withholding federal funds, and to remember that we are the experts on our own lives. We deserve the tools and opportunity to build the futures and families we want and need. We invite you to join us and add your voice to a loud and unapologetic call to all our policymakers: let’s end the unequal health care system that treats reproductive health care as something separate from all other health care. Let’s repeal the Hyde Amendment!