In the wake of a stunning strike against reproductive freedom this past week, the National Network of Abortion Funds is seeing a surge of people who are newly concerned about securing the access and right of people to get the abortions they need through what many have described as an “underground railroad” of abortion. I’m grateful for this outpouring of support and compassion and desire to take action!
As folks are jumping to action, I’d like to call attention to the work that abortion funds have been doing for decades that has helped millions of people seeking of abortion. Thousands of volunteers have been doing this work and need more help. I want to caution people against building new structures and strongly encourage that what will best facilitate abortion access on the ground is increased involvement and investment in the over 70 grassroots member abortion funds in 38 states and growing in new ones. Though abortion funds, largely run and operated by volunteers, may have seemed less visible to some, they are no strangers to what it takes to get folks what they need. The strength of abortion funds is their expertise in the communities on the ground. Abortion funds shine in assisting people, in their locales, with the multitude of barriers and obstacles that their folks may face. Abortion funds have built their contacts, resources and collaborative processes through years, and sometimes decades, of assisting people in their communities with the exact hurdles they need to jump to get the abortions they seek, safely and compassionately.
Often, this takes the form of helping to pay for abortions because we know people who are struggling to make ends meet daily are people who are often economically shut out from making reproductive decisions without coercion. Our members help to connect people with non-judgmental options that financially and logistically support them in their decision to have an abortion. For many groups, this assistance takes the form of transportation, childcare, doula services, lodging when traveling, and more. Through the work we’ve done, abortion funds have been able to connect with one another and form powerful bonds that allow for the support of people who need assistance from multiple sources. Abortion funds thoroughly train and vet their volunteers to ensure the people calling for help will get the best assistance available, no matter what it is. They are already connected to networks across state lines and best poised to facilitate care effectively. For the safety of those who need help and protection, this is a time to build our ranks and not attempt to create new structures.
Simply put, our process of sustainable funding and approaches that take in consideration, race, economic status, immigration status and other important intersections have been built from doing this work for many years. We’d love to support the groundswell of passion by urging folks to take the following actions:
- Contact your local abortion fund and inquire about what assistance they might need to meet the local and individual needs on the people in that area
- Donate to your local fund to help them assist the call loads coming in already. Most abortion funds are able to fund about ⅓ to ½ of the calls to their lines, and they’re already seeing huge surges in need during this time. Your financial support is one of the most important and effective ways to ensure abortion is accessible to more people right now and sustaining your donation will ensure accessibility in the future.
- Sign up for your local abortion fund’s email list, and follow them on social media to stay in touch with action alerts and programs where your help is needed most. We must organize our power to both help people who need assistance today and build power for a better tomorrow where everyone is able to get the information and resources they need to make the decisions best for them.
- Follow us nationally for critical information on how to unite our work and build our collective power strategically.
We all share the desire to use our resources, both time and money, to ensure that abortion access is available to as many people as possible. Compassion drives so many of us in our motivations, and that’s good. However, duplicating efforts dilutes the power of so many people who have been building a strong network together to ensure abortion access is there for all of us, and it makes the process of finding assistance much harder for those who might need it. We’re strongest when we care about and listen to those around us. We’re in community together. There are times when impact might thwart good intentions, and the National Network of Abortion Funds hopes to head off any potential harmful situations that people needing assistance might face by making sure that the places they go for help are best equipped to do just that.
We also know that social media is far from immune from surveillance of many kinds, and we must all employ caution when it comes to both personal privacy and organizing work. This caution is how we take care of each other when we organize, because our relationships help to protect us and ensure our victory. When we are cautious about how we’re connected, we’re able to weather storms and plan more efficiently. We’re able to better care for those calling us, protect their privacy, and ensure that our very precious time and financial resources are getting to the people who need them.
We’re stronger when we trust each other, especially those who have deep experience and knowledge that we can turn to during times like these. We’re here for you if you need abortion funds — to work with and for support. Our communities cannot be defeated when we build our movement in a strategic and cohesive way. We urge people to follow the lead of abortion fund activists in their communities, and contact us if you’re located in an area without an abortion fund. We were made for this. We are ready. We need your support.