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2 Midwest organizations are helping offset the costs of traveling out-of-state for an abortion

Teran Powell
Abortion rights supporters marched in downtown Milwaukee in May 2022 after a leaked Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade.

An 1849 law banning almost all abortions is in effect in Wisconsin, and most Wisconsinites seeking access to safe abortions are traveling out of state.

Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul have filed a lawsuit challenging the law and Republicans had until last week to respond. But they’re asking for more time.

In the meantime, those leaving the state to seek an abortion are being met by the high costs of travel, food and finding childcare services on top of paying for their medical care.

Two Midwest organizations are helping offset the indirect costs of seeking an abortion. Lucy Marshall is the board president of the Women’s Medical Fund, one of the oldest abortion funds in the country.

Marshall says, "Prior to this abortion ban being enacted in Wisconsin, there were four abortion clinics that were operating in the state. Already access to abortion in Wisconsin, even with the protection of Roe v. Wade was extremely limited, and the need for abortion funding was incredibly high."

Prior to the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the Women's Medical Fund provided financial assistance by covering any gaps in the costs of abortion services for any Wisconsin resident. They have since had to pivot and now are helping Wisconsinites seeking an abortion by helping cover out-of-state travel in addition to helping cover the costs of the abortion appointment.

Marie Khan is the director of programs for the Midwest Access Coalition. They are an organization that supports people seeking an abortion within the Midwest by offering practical support. That includes helping buy train or bus tickets, housing, and food for clients traveling to, within, or from the Midwest to access abortion services.

Khan says, "All those costs can add up. And we often see practical support that ends up being around $1,000 because you have round-trip travel. We want to provide food support for folks if they don't have that each day and then also if babysitting, childcare funding is something someone needs."

She emphasizes that depending on the type of care needed, some people need to travel as far as Washington D.C. or Colorado in the height of summer or the holiday season.

Lawmakers in other states, such as Missouri, are attempting to make it illegal to “aid and abet” abortions out of state. Such as the work both organizations are doing. But at the end of the day, both Lucy and Khan agree that they will continue to fight for abortion access in Wisconsin and across the Midwest.

Marshall says, "We were here before Roe, we’re here after. We’re not going anywhere. We will ensure that anyone in Wisconsin who needs an abortion can access it, can pay for it and can feel taken care of and supported by their neighbors."

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Mallory Cheng was a Lake Effect producer from 2021 to 2023.
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