Jun 28, 2022 - Politics

Roe reversal brings uncertain future for Arizona abortion fund

Illustration of a red cross on a ticket.
Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

An organization that helps people pay for abortion-related travel expenses in Arizona faces an uncertain future in the wake of Friday's historic reversal of the Roe v. Wade decision.

Details: Abortion Fund for Arizona assists people who must travel for abortions by paying for transportation, hotel rooms and meals.

  • In some cases, this involves out-of-state travel, like for people who needed to travel to New Mexico for abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

State of play: Eloisa Lopez, the executive director of Abortion Fund of Arizona, says the organization will continue to help people who are seeking the procedure. She also leads Pro-Choice Arizona.

  • "​​For us, it's not really a matter of, Will we have the resources? It's really the mentality of, We are going to be able to acquire these resources one way or another because we know that they are out there. And we also are driven by the fact that we know people need them," Lopez tells Axios.
  • The fund saw a spike in donations on Friday after the ruling, Lopez says, and a Phoenix bar informed the group that it was planning a fundraiser that night.

Yes, but: Lopez says the group is concerned that Arizona will enact new laws that will restrict its ability to help people obtain abortions.

  • If the state enacts laws criminalizing financial assistance for abortions or makes it illegal for people to seek or obtain them, the Abortion Fund of Arizona could become a "pregnant people's bail fund," she says.
  • "At the moment it's still a resource. However, we'll see what kinds of laws come into play that criminalize supporting, referring, advertising or promoting abortion services. If the state chooses to prohibit those kinds of activities, then the abortion fund part of our organization will have to drastically shift," Lopez says.

Between the lines: Even if the group is able to continue covering travel costs, Lopez says, abortions will still be inaccessible to people who can't afford to take time off work to leave the state for multiple days or pay for child care while they're gone.

By the numbers: Lopez says the fund, which has a monthly budget of about $7,000, assists 40-50 people each month.

  • Since launching in 2017, it has helped about 2,000 people.
  • The group gets about 200 calls per month, though some of those callers are just looking for information, while others call back later, Lopez says.

Meanwhile: Other abortion providers in the state are doing what they can to help women who are seeking the procedure.

  • Planned Parenthood of Arizona is providing women with information on where to access abortions in places where they are safe and legal through the organization's patient navigation program.
  • Dr. DeShawn Taylor of Desert Star Family Planning tells Axios that her organization is mainly referring people to national resources with information on how to access abortions.
  • She says Arizona providers are also meeting with local advocates and community members to create local resources.
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