For many abortion fund callers, Roe v. Wade has never been enough. When abortion isn’t covered by Medicaid, the average cost of the procedure alone is $508, and many states have no clinic that provides abortion care in the majority of their counties, legal doesn’t mean accessible. Every day, abortion fund staff and volunteers help callers attempt to bridge that gap.
Limited Resources, Unnecessary Barriers
Even though most callers identify their interaction with an abortion fund as overwhelmingly positive, the process can be time-consuming and stressful. Multiple calls may be necessary, and some callers have to secure pledges from several different sources.
In 2019, funds in our network served 62,933 people–more than any other year!–but they received over 200,000 requests for assistance. Abortion funds are doing incredible work with the resources they have, but those resources are limited.
We’ve spent years surveying funds, callers, and clinics, asking how this system can work better for everyone involved. We envision a future where one phone call will connect anyone seeking an abortion with a compassionate, knowledgeable case manager.
That’s why we are proud to announce the next step in our vision for abortion funding support. We call it: Operation Scale Up.
Taking the Hassle and Hustle Out of Healthcare
Operation Scale Up offers a vision for abortion funding that will fully resource and connect abortion funds.
We’re launching the program pilot with a cohort of five abortion funds:
Baltimore Abortion Fund serves callers residing in or traveling to Maryland who are seeking abortion. While enrollees of Medicaid in Maryland may qualify for abortion coverage through their insurance, the vast majority of people supported by the Baltimore Abortion Fund are from out-of-state. Baltimore Abortion Fund actively works to reduce abortion stigma within Maryland and participates in broader conversations shaping local and state-wide policy affecting abortion fund callers.
Blue Ridge Abortion Fund is based in Central Virginia and works with callers from that region. They operate under the belief that “funding abortion is an act of radical care that affirms our belief that all community members should have the agency and the resources to make their own decisions about their bodies.” State-level abortion restrictions in Virginia include public funding bans (including Medicaid), parental notification laws, and gestational limits.
Carolina Abortion Fund is a multi-state fund founded by a group of volunteer clinic defenders. They provide financial, practical, and emotional support to callers seeking an abortion and work in partnership with reproductive justice organizations to support families in accessing all reproductive options. The Carolina Abortion Fund caller base faces some of the most extreme abortion restrictions, including coverage bans, mandatory waiting periods and ultrasounds, and a ban on telemedicine for medication abortion.
D.C. Abortion Fund supports pregnant people in the Washington, D.C. area, as well as those traveling to the region to seek an abortion. The larger Washington, D.C./Maryland region serves as a hub for many people seeking later abortion all around the country, many of whom travel across state lines to access care. Residents of Washington, D.C. face the unjust Medicaid coverage bans that are the norm throughout most of the United States.
Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project is a Virginia-based fund that works with callers residing in or traveling to Virginia. In addition to funding and practical support, they hold a partnership with the Richmond Doula Project, which provides free emotional, spiritual, and physical support and education to all pregnant people, no matter the outcome of the pregnancy. They also work on grassroots advocacy campaigns, leadership development, and programming-supportive story sharing and healing.
All five pilot funds are located in the Southeast, a region where states with significant restrictions to legal abortion border states that are more supportive of abortion access. They will receive technical assistance from NNAF, including in finance, fundraising, human resources, IT, board development, values alignment, and collaboration.
Two out of five of the pilot funds are currently volunteer-led; the other three operate with one or two staff members. With NNAF’s support through Operation Scale Up, all five funds will hire up to four full-time staff members in the next year.
NNAF’s annual membership enrollment survey tells us that abortion funds with paid staff are able to fund two to four times as many callers as volunteer-led funds.