Jul 6, 2022 - News

Utah women are turning to abortion funds post-Roe v. Wade

Illustration of two checks forming a health plus.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As the legal battle around Utah's pending abortion ban unfolds, reproductive-justice advocates are pointing women toward abortion funds.

What's happening: Grassroots organizations across the U.S. are working to remove financial and logistical barriers to help women access safe abortions.

  • It comes in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade.

Details: Since launching in 2019, the Utah Abortion Fund has provided financial and practical support for more than 150 people seeking to access abortions — over half of those have been this year.

  • The fund was founded by a group of reproductive-justice organizers and conducts its work anonymously.

What they're saying: "We believe that everyone deserves to have access to the reproductive health care they need, free of judgment, stigma, and economic barriers," one of the fund's leaders said in an email to Axios.

Macy Haverda, president of the Wild West Access Fund of Nevada, told Axios Phoenix she anticipates more people traveling to Nevada for abortion care.

  • Nevada allows abortions up until 24 weeks of pregnancy.
  • She said people from southern Utah were already seeking abortions in Las Vegas before Roe was overturned because it's closer than Salt Lake City, where most of Utah's abortion clinics operate.

The other side: One of our state's trigger law co-sponsors, Sen. Dan McCay (R-Riverton), said he didn't believe Utah women should seek abortions outside of the state during a news conference last month.

  • State Rep. Karianne Lisonbee (R-Clearfield), a co-sponsor of the bill, said Utah's pending abortion ban doesn't outlaw women from doing so.
  • "I don't think there's any contemplation that we would try to control someone's ability to travel or to obtain an abortion elsewhere," she said.

Between the lines: In an interview with Axios, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, a Democrat, said outlawing women from traveling to other states to access abortions would be difficult to investigate and prosecute.

  • "I don't even know how constitutionally you can ban somebody's right to travel," Gill said.

Catch up fast: Utah's so-called trigger law went into effect on June 24.

  • It banned abortions in the state with very few exceptions, including rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.
  • Almost immediately, the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah sued to halt the ban.
  • Third District Judge Andrew Stone granted a two-week temporary restraining order blocking the trigger law.
  • Meanwhile, a 2019 law that banned elective abortions in the state after 18 weeks of pregnancy went into effect.

The bottom line: An abortion can cost up to $750, according to Planned Parenthood. That doesn't include travel or lodging costs if someone is going to another state to obtain one.

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