Abortion access during the COVID-19 pandemic - National Network of Abortion Funds
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A quote from the former NNAF Executive Director Yamani Hernandez on a dark purple background. The text reads: I remain inspired by how people are sharing resources when they have them and asking for help when they need it.

Abortion access during the COVID-19 pandemic

April 6, 2020

A quote from the former NNAF Executive Director Yamani Hernandez on a dark purple background. The text reads: I remain inspired by how people are sharing resources when they have them and asking for help when they need it.

Dear friend,

With everything that is happening, I encourage you to pause and take a deep breath.

I know many of us are struggling with financial and health uncertainties, challenges in caring for our families, and the impact of being isolated from our support systems. Our lives are changing dramatically. And yet, I remain inspired by how people are sharing resources when they have them and asking for help when they need it.

Seeding and sustaining systems of interdependence that are rooted in trust, mutual aid, and collectivity is how abortion fund callers, funds, and clinics will survive and thrive. COVID-19 has brought on the crisis in abortion access that we anticipated with conservative SCOTUS appointments. A different source, and on a faster timeline, but the same crisis nonetheless. Like many of you, we at NNAF have been determining ways we need to pivot and shift to care for our staff and for the network.

Here’s what we know: 

Abortion funds have been practicing resource redistribution and mutual aid from the beginning. We know how to build community, weather crises, and shepherd resources to where they are most needed. Today, as the lines blur between the people who call abortion funds, run abortion funds, and support abortion funds, one thing remains: we are here for you. Abortion funds are working around the clock to take care of our communities. During a pandemic, the needs of abortion funds only increase. Abortion fund callers are more likely to feel the burdens of lost wages, working through illness without paid time off, and school and daycare closures, not to mention challenges paying rent, finding groceries, and more.

Social distancing has made it harder for people to travel to clinics, whether they are getting an abortion or providing one. Rides are more difficult to come by and mass transit is highly restricted, if not completely shut down, in many areas.

Abortion has always been the most politicized and stigmatized form of health care in the United States. During a pandemic, it remains 100 percent essential that people have the autonomy to end a pregnancy. Using a public health crisis to force people to stay pregnant is immoral. This is happening in states like Texas, Ohio, and too many others where abortions have been considered “non-essential,” forcing people to travel further and incur a greater risk of contracting and spreading the virus. As the legality of these bans is debated in the courts, we are already seeing similar abortion bans pop up in more and more states.

Here’s what we’re doing:

We have three priorities at this time:

• Community care for staff, abortion funds, and individual network members
• Emergency response technical assistance support to abortion funds
• Mobilizing urgent funding support to member funds

Abortion funds are creatively figuring out ways to move money into the hands of people who need them, while also managing the complex logistics of getting patients to clinics. They’re doing this while caring for the volunteers, staff, and clinic workers who are putting so much on the line. In this moment, NNAF is committed to leveraging all possible resources to support abortion funds with the financial and practical resources they need to ramp up and meet callers’ needs. If you’re able, we encourage you to find your local abortion fund and make a donation today. You can also support local abortion funds through the grassroots Fund-a-Thon, which is running virtual events all over the country.

During these times of overwhelm and increased threats to our personal and collective well-being, the National Network of Abortion Funds is committed to providing spaces for community care, collective learning, resource sharing, and relationship building throughout our network. These moments call for us to deepen the tools and relationships we have been cultivating for over 25 years. Join as an individual member to learn more about upcoming community care and mutual aid webinars.

Finally, a personal note about our staff. NNAF has long been a virtual community with the majority of our staff working from home. We have canceled all travel to meetings, conferences, and convenings as advised by the CDC, and are working to reallocate our budget to provide even more direct abortion support to our members. We are working strictly via telework and have offered food and supply stipends to support the need for quarantine shopping. We have reduced the workweek without a reduction in pay in order to support people navigating illness, child/eldercare loss, and needs to tend to community mutual aid (whether through their abortion fund commitments or otherwise). We continue to amplify mental health supports through our insurance plan.

Please continue to be vigilant about rest, hydration, handwashing, and physical distancing where at all possible. We are a network that does virtual community very well, and I look forward to continuing our creativity and care while being in closer touch as we lean toward each other to survive this challenge. We’re all adjusting to this new reality, but we know we’ll get through as we always have. Together.

In solidarity,
Yamani Hernandez
Executive Director

P.S. Over the next few months, we commit to keeping you informed on how to support people seeking abortions, the evolving challenges that abortion funds are facing, and ways to take action to increase connection and build power together. Join our email list to receive these updates