May 4, 2022 - News

D.C. is an abortion safe haven for Texans, others

A person holds a sign in support of abortion access outside the Supreme Court

Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Donations began pouring in to the DC Abortion Fund within hours of news breaking that the Supreme Court intended to strike down Roe v. Wade.

By Tuesday evening, the fund had raised nearly $64,000 — enough to cover hundreds of abortions.

Why it matters: D.C. lawmakers yesterday reaffirmed the District’s commitment to abortion access. That means that absent interference from Congress, people could continue coming to D.C. seeking a legal, safe abortion. The fund covers abortion costs for those in need, no matter their state of residence.

State of play: Clinics in both D.C. and Maryland reported seeing additional patients from Texas last year in light of the state’s restrictive abortion laws.

It’s possible many people are traveling from Virginia or Maryland, not because the neighboring jurisdiction is their closest provider geographically, but because it’s where they might be able to receive a legal abortion depending on how far along they are, Guttmacher Institute senior research scientist Liza Fuentes tells Axios.

  • Virginia, for example, limits abortion before the third trimester, whereas Maryland and D.C. have fewer gestational limits.

Flashback: This wouldn’t be the first time D.C. became a destination for people seeking abortions.

  • Pre-Roe, D.C. became a hub of abortion access, a CDC report says.
  • This was because of a 1971 ruling that liberalized abortion in the District, allowing at least one clinic to operate, the New York Times wrote.

What’s happening: The DC Abortion Fund, which has operated for 26 years, connects people in need of an abortion with case managers who help determine costs for the procedure, says Devin Simpson, the organization’s communications director.

  • The fund then sends grants directly to clinics to cover whatever patients need.
  • At least 90% of those who call the fund tend to be from D.C., Maryland, or Virginia. Pennsylvania, Texas, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas, among other states, account for the other 10%.
  • Donations exploded in the hours after the news dropped Monday night, and Simpson expects the sum to rise.

What’s next: The group will continue to support people seeking abortions in a post-Roe world, no matter where they come from, Simpson says.

  • “Wealthy white women and women with privilege will still be able to access safe abortions … communities that have been marginalized will not,” she adds.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to state that Virginia limits abortions before the third trimester of pregnancy, not after.


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