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Wow!

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, April 14, 2011 13:42 EDT
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Thanks to everyone who donated! A large donation from an anonymous donor late yesterday pushed us over our fund-raising goal of $2,500 for the Abortion Access Fund!

Now I’ll be bowling in my WAM! Prom dress, and don’t worry, there will be pictures. I don’t renege on these promises.

Just because we reached our goal doesn’t mean that you can’t still donate, however. Our team page is here, and if you want to make the donation in any team member’s name, just click their name on the left and donate through their page.

This year, I think, we have had it pressed upon us how urgent the need for funding for abortion is. There are many people to blame in the case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the butcher who was providing illegal abortions in Philadelphia, preying on women who, for various reasons, didn’t have access to safe, responsible providers. Some of this is due to the stigma of abortion. Women don’t talk about it, and so don’t share information about who is a safe provider. Women don’t complain about bad service, because they don’t want to admit they’ve had abortions. But a whole lot of it is money. Abortion providers really do try to keep costs low, but even places like Planned Parenthood often have to charge $400-$600 for an early term abortion, because they don’t get any federal reimbursements. Thus, if a woman can’t come up with the money right away, she often gets on the hamster wheel from hell. She starts trying to raise the money—asking friends and family, selling things, etc. But this is all very time-consuming, and the problem with pregnancy is it’s progressive. The longer you wait to abort, the more expensive it is. Gosnell exploited many women that were seeking later abortions, which he offered at cut-rate prices because he wasn’t running a real doctor’s office. He was perfectly poised to exploit women whose lack of funds put safe abortions out of their reach.

While women of all income levels face unwanted pregnancy and get abortions, being poor raises your chances of this happening to you dramatically. The Guttmacher has the bleak reality of how much more common abortion is for those who can least afford it:

• Forty-two percent of women obtaining abortions have incomes below 100% of the federal poverty level ($10,830 for a single woman with no children).

• Twenty-seven percent of women obtaining abortions have incomes between 100-199% of the federal poverty level.

There’s a lot of discussion in the “common ground” department about why so many low income women have abortions, and most of it is focused on the having-the-baby aspect—talking about what it would take in terms of public assistance and help for women to make the choice to have a baby. But frankly, I think that an even bigger aspect of why low income women have more abortions is they are in greater danger of having an unwanted pregnancy in the first place. Contraception costs money and it takes time to get it, and both these things are in short supply for many low income people. One response to this problem has been to try to make birth control shots more common, so you only have to spend a couple hours once every three months getting it done, but this isn’t an option for everyone. Affordable condoms can also be harder to come by in some places than others. I’m guessing the same problems that create food deserts create condom deserts. And women of all income levels can definitely tell you that the main problem with condoms is getting men to cooperate with you.

In sum, the more financial assistance there is for women who need abortions, the better. It means more women can abort earlier in their pregnancy. It means that we’re depriving back alley butchers of customers. It’s no substitute for federal reimbursements for abortions for women with low incomes, but for the women abortion funds are able to help, it makes a world of difference.

I want to throw in a special thanks to the hard-working people who run these funds, who man the phones, who help women with referrals to providers and assistance in child care and transportation, and who do all the paperwork approving and funding abortions. This work is thankless, but necessary work. The clients who come are generally in distress and dealing with one stressed out person after another can be daunting. It’s rare that clients come back to express gratitude, and again, I think we can understand why that would be—people often just want to put their troubles behind them. But the folks who provide this service are out there doing it despite these pressures, and so I want to thank them.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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