Abortion funds are advocacy organizations that also help patients
pay for the cost of an abortion by pledging financial assistance
directly to a health-care provider.
Abortion fund patients who get aid to help pay for abortions are
younger and more likely to be African American when compared to general
abortion patients in the United States, revealed the findings of a study just
published online in the journal Social Work in Health Care
These patients receive over $1,000 in aid on average to pay for
procedures that would otherwise be unaffordable, given their limited
‘Abortion fund patients who get aid to help pay for abortions are younger and more likely to be African American when compared to general abortion patients in the United States.’
"The patients in this study are trying to fund procedures that
can cost over $2,000 on average, while they report having about $500 of
their own resources to contribute to the procedure. These are vulnerable
patients who are piecing together funding from a variety of sources,"
said Gretchen Ely, an associate professor in the University at Buffalo
School of Social Work.
The longer it takes for patients to gather the funding the longer the procedure is delayed, which in turn increases cost.
"Given that findings suggest that aid for second-trimester
procedures has increased from 2010 to 2015, it appears that the quest
for funding may be causing delays in accessing an abortion. This
parallels increasing state-level restrictions," said Ely. "It shows the dire circumstances of people who are vulnerable - that includes vulnerability because of race or where they live."
In the U.S., the National Network of
Abortion Funds (NNAF) is the main umbrella organization for 70
independent-member abortion funds. The NNAF also maintains the Tiller
Memorial Fund, its own abortion fund, which provides financial
assistance to patients who are unable to cover the entire cost of the
procedure on their own. Data of patients funded through the Tiller fund
was used for this study.
"These abortion funds are filling in where public health policy should be picking up the costs," said Ely.
Ely analyzed nearly 4,000 NNAF case records between 2010 and 2015
and compared the data with the demographics from the Abortion
Surveillance Report, which collects data on the national level from
The results suggest that women who couldn't afford an abortion
and received funding to pay for their procedures were more likely to be
single, young adolescent or African-American, populations that also
sought to fund expensive procedures performed later in the pregnancy,
averaging about $2,000, but received about half that in aid.
The increase in funding pledges for second trimester abortions
parallels the unprecedented state-level restrictions on abortion that
picked up after the 2010 midterm elections, according to Ely.
The legality of abortion does not always translate into access.
In fact, Ely said, although it varies by region, abortion services are
very inaccessible in the U.S.
Texas recently finalized new laws requiring fetal remains to be
buried or cremated. Utah recently became the first state to require
doctors to administer anesthesia to women having abortions. Tennessee
now has a mandatory waiting period that involves visiting a doctor two
days before an abortion, then returning for the procedure.
Ely said these kinds of requirements cause delays and increase
costs, impeding the process and pushing abortions into the second
"A good many people who need abortion services are already using
Medicaid," said Ely. "If funds were available to everyone, they would
not have to piece together financing, which would promote access to very
early, less expensive first trimester abortions."