The tsunami of donations to abortion services following Roe v. Wade’s reversal is receding—but women need more support than ever

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It has been two years since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, opening the floodgates for a slew of cruel abortion bans to follow. After the ruling, there was immediate outrage and an outpouring of donations to services that help patients access abortion care across the country. Politicians vowed to fight back and thousands of corporations signed onto statements of support for abortion access and pledged to cover travel expenses for their employees to access care. But two years later, we are facing an abortion access crisis—and we need those who made sweeping commitments to make good on their promises to help people access abortions now and in the future.

Today, over 21 million women of reproductive age live in states where abortion is banned and nearly one in five must travel—often hundreds of miles—to get care.

Although patients’ needs have continued to increase since the Supreme Court’s ruling, donations have significantly declined. Resources like the National Abortion Federation’s National Abortion Hotline can’t keep up with the demand. The Hotline recently announced that we must reduce the amount we offer per patient and decrease our overall patient assistance spending by nearly 50% per month—or we will run out of funds before the end of the year, leaving tens of thousands of people without any support. 

The National Abortion Hotline helped more than 106,000 people with financial assistance for their abortions and another 1,800 people with travel assistance in 2023. Many of these patients would not have been able to access an abortion without this vital support.

Patient assistance funds are life vests in a sea of abortion restrictions. To date, 14 states have completely banned abortion and seven others impose restrictions making it difficult, if not impossible, to access care. For those patients who can find their way to an abortion provider, traveling means missed work or school, transportation, hotel, and childcare costs, which adds to the stress of getting care in time.

The National Abortion Federation provides a broad range of services to abortion providers, including 24/7 security support for clinics, quality assurance services, clinical training, and technical assistance. Membership dues represent approximately 10% of our income and we rely heavily on generous donations from foundations and people around the country to enable us to run our programs—including the Hotline—as the need for our services grows.

While our member clinics are often able to offer discounts or contribute funds from their own patient assistance funds to help patients, they also rely on the same ecosystem of funding, which isn’t able to keep up. Although philanthropists and individuals gave in record amounts immediately following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the donations have since slowed even as the number of women needing support has skyrocketed.

In the first quarter of 2024 alone, the Hotline supported 14% more people and spent 20% more on patient assistance than in the same period last year. Individual donations to the Hotline increased by 135% in 2022, with many of those gifts coming after the Dobbs decision was leaked. However, donations to the Hotline decreased nearly 40% in 2023. 

Corporations have a unique responsibility to fill the gap in abortion funding, not just in support of bodily autonomy, but because it’s good for business. Abortion restrictions and barriers to care threaten the independence and economic stability of families throughout the U.S. Today, women and people who can become pregnant make up over half of the college-educated labor force, but abortion bans and barriers to accessing reproductive care are stopping them from fully participating in the workforce. 

Abortion restrictions are estimated to cost state economies an annual average of $173 billion by reducing labor force participation and earnings levels while increasing turnover and time off from work among women aged 15 to 44 years who are employed in the private sector, according to a 2022 analysis. The real costs of these restrictions are likely much higher now that people are being denied access to abortions in 21 states.

Support can take many forms. Companies could make long-term pledges to a patient assistance fund, which is an investment in their workforce pipeline and a way to make funds available to their own employees who need to access care. They can focus corporate charitable giving programs on funding abortion care, which will improve the well-being of their communities and help create a world more in line with their values. Companies can also incentivize their employees to give to abortion funds through matching programs. Rideshare companies can donate rides, airlines can donate miles, hotels can provide free rooms, and food delivery services can give meal vouchers to groups that provide travel and wraparound support to patients seeking abortion care.

It was incredible to see the outpouring of support for abortion access from many in the immediate wake of the Dobbs decision. But even more people need assistance today.

Corporations that care about helping their communities thrive must do more than just offer insurance coverage and travel benefits when their employees need abortion care. We need innovative partners and significant investments to address the current abortion access crisis, help people live healthy lives, and ensure our society can fulfill our economic promise. Many corporations took the first step two years ago in pledging support for reproductive health care. Now, we need their focus, initiative, and financial investments to truly meet this moment.

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