Yesterday, the federal budget compromise hit D.C. when Medicaid coverage of abortions abruptly expired. The budget deal left 28 low-income women, scheduled to terminate their pregnancies yesterday, with only hours to raise several hundred dollars each to cover the cost of the procedure.
After a fundraising push from the DC Abortion Fund, Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington and fund-matching from the Eastern Massachusetts Abortion Fund, all 28 women successfully made their appointments. But that was just day one.
Last year, President Obama lifted the Bush-era ban on the District applying locally-raised taxes to fund abortions for low-income women. But the program operated for only for a few months before President Obama allowed Republicans to reinstate the ban last week, reportedly telling John Boehner, "I will give you D.C. abortion. I am not happy about it.”
Since then, the DC Abortion Fund has raised $25,000 to help fill the gap left by the federal government restriction on District funds. It's an impressive net, but it still falls far short of the $62,000 that D.C. Medicaid paid out to fund abortions in D.C. for just a few months. "We're still pushing," DC Abortion Fund President Tiffany Reed told me today. "We are working with PPMW to make grants to the women who are coming in this weekend," she said. "We will work tirelessly to make sure that all women in D.C. have the right to choose, regardless of their financial standing or insurance."
The DC Abortion Fund hopes to make up the difference by asking for one-time and recurring donations from individual donors; through the end of the day, donations to the Eastern Massachusetts Abortion Fund will be matched with an in-kind donation to D.C. "We are working around the clock to raise money," says Reed. "Obviously, we cannot quit fundraising because this is again our reality: That women will begin to slip through the cracks."