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Florida abortion fund faces increased demand amid sinking financial support

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People protest in response to the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on June 24, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)Quality Journalism for Critical Times

More than a month has passed since the state’s six-week abortion ban went into effect, and the Florida Access Network (FAN), a nonprofit dedicated to reproductive justice, has helped 150 people secure abortions state since then, including out of state, the group’s executive director said Monday.

FAN’s work has become increasingly difficult in the two years since the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated the constitutional right to abortion, freeing states like Florida to erect legal barriers to the procedure, meaning inflated costs associated with travel for the procedure amid a shrinking pool of donors.

Leaders of abortion funds across the country shared the hardships their grassroots organizations have faced since the Dobbs. v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling during a press conference Monday afternoon. They represented states with strict bans like Florida but also states in which voters have protected the right to abortion like Ohio, the leaders said.

Stephanie Loraine Piñeiro is the executive director of Florida Access Network. (Screenshot from press conference).

“The reality is, no amount of resources could adequately fund the travel and support people need to leave their community for abortion care,” said FAN’s executive director, Stephanie Loraine Piñeiro.

“But logistical and financial burdens are tremendous, compounded by declining donations to abortion funds and the Florida Access Network since the Dobbs decision. We are shifting, adapting, and mobilizing in real time as the systems around us continue to fail members of our community, especially queer folks and people of color. Abortion funds are resilient, and together we are powerful,” she said.

The group covers 50% of the costs associated with traveling out of state for an abortion, such as meals, transportation, and childcare. Overall, such travel can cost between $1,000 and $1,500, and on average people have to travel more than 900 miles one way, Loraine Piñeiro said during the press conference.

The nearest state from Florida with greater access to abortion is South Carolina, which has a 12-week ban. However, Floridians and others in the Southeast are going to places without abortion bans such as Illinois, Washington D.C., and Virginia.

“For almost half the country, accessing an abortion today requires more hassle and hustle than ever before,” said Oriaku Njoku, executive director of the National Network of Abortion Funds.

“Traveling across state lines and navigating childcare, lodging, lost wages, and heightened financial barriers associated with traveling to a clinic appointment — not to mention the psychological toll of making such a deeply personal decision while navigating a hostile landscape intentionally embroiled with shame and complexity,” she said.

“This is a deliberate infliction of trauma on people choosing to exercise their human rights to bodily autonomy, and we should not be normalizing this type of travel or trauma for basic health care.”

Donor burnout

When the Dobbs decision came down in 2022, the Florida Access Network raised $200,000 in individual donations; small donors gave the group another $40,000 after the Florida Supreme Court upheld the 15-week ban, Loraine Piñeiro said. That decision triggered the six-week ban.

As of June 3, 32,081 abortions have been performed in the state this year (including those done before the six-week ban), according to data from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration. The agency reported 84,052 last year.

Loraine Piñeiro described the fundraising drop-off as stark and attributed it to donors feeling burnt out: “I would also add we are in an election year, and a lot of resources are being [given to] potential candidates that could be on the side of justice but not going to organizations who are directly doing the work.”

An abortion-rights initiative, Amendment 4, will be on the ballot in Florida this November, but it will need at least 60% support to enshrine the right to abortion in the state Constitution. Lexis Dotson-Dufault, who heads an abortion fund in Ohio, urged people not to disengage from reproductive rights should such amendments pass.

Last November, 57% of Ohioans voted to protect the right to abortion, according to States Newsroom outlet Ohio Capital-Journal.

“Ohio is still a fairly hostile landscape when it comes to abortion access. Our amendment did not get rid of the 30-plus abortion restrictions and trap laws that we have in Ohio, such as the 24-hour waiting period,” Dotson-Dufault said during the press conference.

The post Florida abortion fund faces increased demand amid sinking financial support appeared first on Florida Phoenix.

Abortion Policy, Health, Politics & Law, abortion access, Florida Access Network, Lexis Dotson-Dufault, National Network of Abortion Funds, Oriaku Njoku, six-week abortion ban, Stephanie Loraine Piñeiro

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