Here we are — 47 years since the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that granted constitutional protection to legal abortion in the United States. AND, here we are- fighting an uphill battle to maintain that right for pregnant people in this country. While many other first-world countries have made headway on a variety of human rights issues, the U.S. has remained in the dark ages, and even moved backwards on some issues, particularly those pertaining to the human rights of women and pregnant people. With many anti-abortion laws being passed across the country, court challenges popping up to argue that they are unconstitutional, and a conservative-led Supreme Court poised to overlook precedent and potentially take away one of the most basic human rights issues of all, we seem to be at an abortion tipping point. How did we get here? (While we would love to get into that, it would force this blog to become a novel). Valuable lessons can be found in our history, but looking forward serves our cause much better. And a great part of securing access to abortion, REGARDLESS of how the Supreme Court rules, is Abortion Funds.
Abortion funds literally ARE the frontlines of access across the United States. For years, abortion funds have been in the trenches fighting for reproductive rights. Whether it is providing pregnant people with ideas to get more money together (asking friends and family, selling items, paying bills late) or offering their homes, vehicles, and volunteered time, abortion funds know the hardships and desperation of pregnant people first hand.
For over 40 years, politicians have gone out of their way to make abortion harder to access. The Hyde Amendment of 1976 prevents Medicaid from funding abortion, leaving low-income women with even fewer options for their healthcare. In 2011, Michigan introduced an insurance ban (aka “Rape Insurance”) that required people who can get pregnant to purchase an additional rider to cover an abortion. This rider must be purchased BEFORE becoming pregnant, thus making sure pregnant people plan for their unplanned pregnancies *insert eye roll emoji here*. Payment for this rider is separate from the monthly insurance bill, that is, if you can figure out how to purchase it. Despite the numerous abortion restrictions plaguing healthcare in the US, Reclaim’s MI WIN Fund continues to provide support for abortion costs.
Reclaim’s MI WIN Fund is in a unique position. MI WIN is the ONLY abortion fund in southeast Michigan and one of only two local abortion funds in the state. That means pregnant people in (or traveling to) Michigan for abortion care have limited options when it comes to affording their procedures. Because they gather all the money they can muster for the cost of travel and the procedure, many arrive with no money for food, lodging, or aftercare medications. Many pregnant people seeking assistance from the MI WIN Fund have to use multiple abortion funds in order to piece together all the help they can get to assist with the cost.
MI WIN opened in July 2017 and assisted 11 people with $201 in abortion funding. That number jumped to $1,241 pledged to 42 people in 2018, and 2019 was MI WIN’s best year yet with $8,168 pledged to 171 people!