Thursday, February 19, 2009

The right to choose?

What does it mean to have the right to choose? You hear this phrase thrown about like having “the right” is the end all. Don’t get me wrong, I believe strongly in having this right. But what is this right if you can’t exercise it? What does it mean, if you can’t afford to exercise it?

In the last post I made, I did a spotlight on a particular abortion fund. I want to take this time to talk about abortion funds more generally, what they do, and how all of us can support funds in our local areas. There are some small, local and a few national abortion funds scattered across the US, part of the National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF). These funds are run by volunteers, with their own day jobs, who spend many of their evenings and weekends fundraising, working hard to help poor women exercise their right to choose.

For some women, it is hard enough just to find a clinic near them that does abortions. They may not own a car or have reliable public transportation, so they have to find a ride. Maybe they have kids and have to find childcare because some clinics are not able to accommodate small children in the waiting rooms. Then they make an appointment and find out the cost that could be or seem completely out of their reach. Unlike other countries, we do not have universal health care that covers abortion; so many women are uninsured or have insurance that doesn’t cover abortion. In some states Medicaid does cover the cost of an elective abortion, but even then some women have to jump through hoops to get on it and have to hope they can get on the right kind (I believe there are states where certain types of Medicaid do cover and certain types do not cover elective abortion). Then there are women who have the Medicaid or get the money together, only to find out they are further along than they thought and have to travel out-of-state (where their Medicaid will not cover them, and they have to get travel expenses together as well). I can only imagine how personally devastating all these barriers must seem.

Luckily there are individuals out there like the volunteers of these local funds, who will answer questions, brainstorm, and do what they can to fundraise. They do this work for women they do not know and will never meet, but they do it because they believe that every woman, no matter her financial circumstances, should have the right to choose. She should have access to the same health care that those of us who are lucky enough to have insurance coverage or various resources, have.

If you are interested in learning more about donating to or volunteering for a fund in your area, please go to the NNAF website. By donating to one of these funds you can make a huge impact on women’s lives all over the country and where you live.


  1. Also note that some funds exist that are not part of NNAF -- don't quote me for sure, but I'm thinking of national funds like Third Wave and WRRAP and NAF, and various local funds that we may not even know of that just happen to be outside of the NNAF umbrella. I am thinking, maybe we can set up a links/info page for this sort of thing -- practical info for seeking abortion care -- where we elucidate the acronyms, provide trustworthy referrals, and/or consolidate some of the good FAQs out there, etc.

  2. for now:


    **WRRAP needs to be contacted by clinic staff


This is not a debate forum -- there are hundreds of other sites for that. This is a safe space for abortion care providers and one that respects the full spectrum of reproductive choices; comments that are not in that spirit will either wind up in the spam filter or languish in the moderation queue.