Home Need to redouble effort to push forward to ensure access for women to safe, legal abortions
US & World

Need to redouble effort to push forward to ensure access for women to safe, legal abortions

abortion health sign protest rights women
(© Amparo Garcia – stock.adobe.com)

By Sylvia Ghazarian

MLK’s Day of Service theme this year is Cultivating a Beloved Community Mindset to Transform Unjust Systems. What better way for us to start 2023 then to continue to fight for our human rights and freedom from sex discrimination.

This year would have marked the 50th anniversary of Roe. However, the recent Dobbs decision by the Supreme Court tossed out the right to a safe and legal abortion that people who become pregnant have come to expect and instead left these vital rights in the hands of each state to decide. This has resulted in unequal, unfair and unjust consequences for people that happen to reside in a state that now bans or restricts abortion access. The consequences are especially severe for low-income, Black, Indigenous and other people of color.

Imagine finding out you are pregnant and your partner all of a sudden disappears” and you are working full time in a low-income job.  You already have twp children and live in a state that has now banned abortion.  What do you do?  Where do you begin?  This is a common scenario for most patients that Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project (WRRAP) serves.

Although abortions are one of the safest and most common (1 in 4) health care procedures in the US communities of color and those with low-income face huge barriers when it comes to access and care.

Initially the individual has to do research to find a clinic outside their state and book an appointment.  That is not always easy to do since many out of state clinics are working hard to navigate a surge in patients.  The person also has to look at taking time off from work, childcare and be able to afford gas and/or travel expenses.  Once the individual finds out the cost which can range anywhere from $700 – $1,500 depending on the state they then have to figure out how to pay for their abortion and any travel related expenses.

At WRRAP we have a streamlined system that allows us to work directly with clinics on a daily basis to provide the funding support necessary for a person seeking abortion care.  We also work in solidarity with other funds that provide “practical support (gas, airfare, child support, etc.)”.

Since Dobbs, the need for these services has grown and we have continued to stand strong in our ability to fund patients from coast to coast.  In fact, this past year we pledged out over $1.4M to over 6,000 patients, many (38 percent) having to travel to another state for abortion care.

In recent weeks the FDA has approved allowing retail pharmacies to dispense the abortion pill. This is a huge victory in terms of access and reducing the time it takes to have the pill delivered by mail.  Yet, we know that not every pharmacy will be moving forward with dispensing pills due to the administrative barriers involved that most other medications do not require. So many pharmacies may not have the time or resources to offer the pills.

Over 67 percent of WRRAP’s funding is for patients in their first trimester and having better access to receive the pills is key in helping patients get the care they need and want.

While we will always honor Roe, our movement is now stronger and bigger than Roe. The midterm elections are proof that people continue to voice their opinion that abortion is a common and safe healthcare procedure and a decision to be made between a doctor and a patient – not any state or federal government.

This year on the anniversary of Roe we won’t be celebrating, instead we will be pushing forward to dismantle this unjust system and to ensure all people have access to safe and legal abortions no matter where they live.

Sylvia Ghazarian is Executive Director of the Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project, a nonprofit abortion fund that provides urgently-needed financial assistance on a national level to those seeking abortion or emergency contraception. She is an active Council member on the California Future of Abortion Council and past Chair of The Commission on the Status of Women.  



Have a guest column, letter to the editor, story idea or a news tip? Email editor Chris Graham at [email protected]. Subscribe to AFP podcasts on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPandora and YouTube.