Report details circumstances of women who apply for abortion-funding assistance

(Image: Third Wave Foundation)

This week, the Third Wave Foundation (TWF), an activist organization that works with young women and transgender youth, released a report (PDF) that illustrates a revealing picture of the type of woman that seeks out funding for an abortion she cannot afford. Each year TWF pledges funding amounts through its Emergency Abortion Fund to low-income women — particularly minors, minorities and illegal immigrants — seeking abortions. The report is based on data derived from the 505 people TWF gave funding to in 2010.

“We believe that now is a crucial time to share what we know about funding abortions for low-income young people to increase support and advocacy within the field,” the report reads.

The report’s release is timed with the advent of recently passed or still-pending state and federal legislation that places increased regulations and restrictions on women seeking abortions — all of which the TWF believes reduces abortion access and disproportionately affects low-income women and women of color. The new 72-hour waiting period in South Dakota, for example, imposes financial and logistical burdens for people who have to travel long distances, take off work or have limited access to transportation.

The report details the types of people TWF gave abortion funding to and what their circumstances were; the data gathered during an initial intake process includes what workers tried to find out about each inquirer’s age, race, state of residency, clinic location, number of weeks pregnant, cost of procedure and access to other funding sources. Of the 2,342 requests for funding received in 2010, 505 procedures were funded. TWF says its budget grew from $9,545 in 2007 to $62,500 in 2010.

Key findings:

  • 85 percent of pledges went to fund second-trimester abortions, 10 percent first-trimester, 5 percent third-trimester
  • 83 percent of pledges were given to people of color, compared with 80 percent in 2009 and 68 percent in 2008 and 2007
  • 16 percent of pledges funded abortions for women impregnated because of rape (10 percent of those pledge recipients were impregnated because of incest)
  • 48 percent of pledge recipients under 14 said their pregnancies were a result of rape
  • Of 148 pledges made to minors, 64 percent were required to obtain consent from their parents due to state laws, 47 percent of pledge recipients had their parents notified because of parental notification laws
  • Of all the minors who received money for abortion, 13 appealed to a judge to override parental consent/notification laws, what’s known as judicial bypass
  • 17 percent of pledge recipients were homeless, compared with 10 percent in 2009 and 6.5 percent in 2008. Of these pledge recipients who were homeless at the time of their procedure, 58 percent had children and 15 percent were homeless due to domestic violence
  • 49 percent of women who received pledge money were already mothers, but the majority had no “involvement” of a partner
  • 15 percent of pledge recipients said they had a partner involved; of those, 57 percent said they were experiencing physical violence from their partner
  • Low or no-income pledge recipients lacked Medicaid mostly due to homelessness or illegal residency, long waiting periods, or because the state dropped coverage once the person turned 18
  • Thus, in 2010, only 6 out of 505 pledges were made to people who were employed full-time, and 19 out of 505 were made to people who had part- time employment.

TWF rarely covers the entire abortion procedure for each caller, but pledges alongside other national and local abortion-funding organizations, such as the National Abortion Federation, the National Network of Abortion Funds, Make a Difference, Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project and the Hersey Abortion Assistance Fund. Often the caller is left with a fraction of the cost to pay.

In addition to the report, the Third Wave Foundation created an infographic (PDF) denoting “what it really takes to get an abortion.”

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