News & Opinion

Carolina Abortion Fund Does More Than Help Patients Pay for Procedures

People line up outside of the new Planned Parenthood clinic at its grand opening in 2019. It’s one of just 14 abortion clinics in the state, and one of the locations where Carolina Abortion Fund might be of help to patients
The Charlotte Planned Parenthood clinic during its 2019 grand opening. It’s one of just 14 abortion clinics in the state. (Photo by Yen Duong)

Anna wasn’t sure if she wanted to be a mom. She was sure that she wasn’t happy with her part-time job — which didn’t offer health insurance — and that she and her partner were in a rough spot in their relationship. A northern transplant to the Triangle in her late twenties, everything felt messy and in flux. 

On top of all that, she’d just missed her period. 

Anna knew this was a possibility since she had switched birth control methods from taking the pill to tracking her ovulation. Also known as the rhythm method, ovulation is a method of contraception whereby somebody tracks their period to figure out which days of the month their body releases an egg. They then either avoid having sex on those days or use another form of contraception such as a condom, to prevent pregnancy. 

Anna read online that everyone ovulates on day 14 of their cycle — turns out that’s not true. Like most other bodily processes, it’s a spectrum. Anna, she later learned, ovulated around day 18. So, the rhythm method failed for her. Research shows it fails for anywhere between 7-24% of people practicing the method.

She spent days thinking about what this meant for her. She soon realized what she needed to do and made an appointment to have an abortion at a nearby Planned Parenthood. There are 14 abortion clinics in North Carolina, and in the Triangle, Anna had access to four of them. 

As Anna and the clinic went back and forth about appointment times, something else came up: money.

The cost of an abortion varies. It depends how far along someone is in their pregnancy, the location of the procedure, how much their insurance will cover, and other factors. For Anna, the tab would come to about $600. 

She said she groaned when she heard the price. 

“I’m not gonna afford this,” she thought to herself. She also couldn’t afford to become a parent. Not then, anyway. 

Anna’s partner had a more stable job than her, and he said he would pay. If that hadn’t been the case, Anna doesn’t know how else she would’ve managed. It wasn’t until years later that she learned about, and got involved with, an organization designed to help people in her situation: The Carolina Abortion Fund. 

Insurance barriers to care

Founded in 2011 by a collection of people who wanted to make abortion more accessible, the Carolina Abortion Fund pays for abortions and the logistics of getting to an abortion clinic. Staff and board members only use their first names or pseudonyms in public for security reasons. Anna is a pseudonym.

The Carolina Abortion Fund is part of the National Network of Abortion Funds, organizations which have existed for years as many states have made abortion increasingly difficult to access even as it remained legal on paper.

Following the Supreme Court’s June 24 decision to overturn Roe v Wade — the landmark 1973 ruling that created a constitutional right to an abortion — abortion regulation will be left entirely up to the states; millions will find themselves in abortion care deserts. 

abortion laws
More than 50 clinic escorts and other volunteers showed up to help patients and counter protesters in November 2021. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

Even before the reversal, the cost of getting an abortion often proved to be an insurmountable barrier for many nationwide. 

“​​There’s this saying that the South has always been post-Roe because there’s so many restrictions in the South even with Roe v Wade standing,” Anna said. 

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