As states hostile to abortion continue to increase regulations and place heavier burdens on patients trying to access abortion care, the services abortion funds provide are becoming even more important. Abortion funds seek to remove barriers to abortion access by providing funding and logistical support to people seeking abortions. Funds give individuals money to pay for abortion procedures, travel/lodging, childcare, and/or whatever else the person needs to access care.
The MSFC chapter at Wake Forest School of Medicine was proud to partner with the Carolina Abortion Fund (CAF) last month to host a seminar and volunteer training for medical and law students. CAF operates a confidential, toll-free hotline to provide financial, logistical, and emotional support to callers in North and South Carolina seeking abortion care. Though it’s important for us to learn the clinical aspects of abortion care, we recognize many patients in our state face numerous barriers to abortion access, and it is important we understand those barriers as well. We know if patients cannot afford abortions, lack transportation to and from the appointment, and/or don’t know where to seek safe abortion, the care and training we provide is not as useful. Partnering with CAF gave students an opportunity to learn what barriers patients face in accessing abortion, and how we can mitigate these barriers.
The weeknight session lasted about three hours and included dinner, which we paid for using our Student Activism Funding. We had great medical student turnout, and we also invited law students from the If/When/How chapter at Wake Forest University School of Law. If/When/How is a national organization for law students dedicated to growing the reproductive justice movement. We often invite law students to our events to expose them to the medical side of abortion care, as we think hearing from abortion providers and learning about the barriers they face to care for their patients gives them a deeper perspective. We also love attending their events to hear more about reproductive health from a legal perspective. We highly encourage other chapters to work with law students at their schools.
During the session, CAF discussed their history and vision, and provided an overview of programming, volunteer opportunities, and how we can get involved. CAF relies on volunteers to do helpline casework, fundraising, and transportation support, among other forms of support. Our session also included an interactive values clarification exercise, a reproductive justice/birth justice primer, information on queering reproductive health, and tips for providing support for someone through their abortion. Finally, CAF gave us some background on the general legal landscape of abortion access in North Carolina and in the United States. Moving forward, there are many members of our chapter who are interested in volunteering with CAF and who will be seeking further training in doing helpline casework.
We strongly encourage other MSFC chapters to reach out to their local abortion funds to find out more about what they offer and consider hosting an event with them. As future providers, we are glad to know abortion funds exist to help our patients pay for abortions, as well as provide logistical support like transportation, childcare, translation and abortion doula services. Our experience with CAF was invaluable, and we hope other MSFC chapters can collaborate with their local abortion fund!