NIRH partnered with Pro-Choice Oregon and the Northwest Abortion Access Fund (NWAAF) in 2021 to expand access to abortion by addressing a primary barrier to care: cost.
Thanks to this advocacy work, on September 15, 2021, the Portland City Council voted to allocate $200,000 to the Northwest Abortion Access Fund (NWAAF) in order to provide needed support and resources to those trying to access abortion care.
This made Portland the third city in the United States to pass municipal funding for abortion care, following New York City and Austin.
This budget allocation came on the heels of the Supreme Court allowing Texas’s radical and extreme abortion ban, Senate Bill 8, to go into effect, allowing private individuals to police and profit from infringing upon other people’s bodily autonomy. Combined with the Supreme Court’s consideration of a Mississippi case that challenges Roe v. Wade, the right to abortion is in jeopardy across the country.
Despite Oregon’s state-level laws that protect the right to abortion, many Oregonians face obstacles to accessing abortion care, including employees on federal health insurance plans, those who receive care via Indian Health Services, those who are incarcerated, and those who need to travel long distances, due to a lack of providers in rural communities or whose only health care providers are religiously affiliated. Oregon also serves as a critical access point for people from out of state, including neighboring Idaho and beyond — a need that will expand with statewide abortion bans already passed or on the horizon in other states.
Abortion funds like NWAAF provide mutual aid and other practical and emotional support to people experiencing financial or other barriers to abortion access. NWAAF already supports nearly 900 people accessing abortion care each year. With additional capacity, NWAAF can support more people experiencing barriers in Oregon, as well as people who live in Texas and other states who may be forced to travel to Oregon in order to receive an abortion.
Here’s what advocates said about this victory:
“In response to Texas SB 8, a law designed to cause disproportionate harm to Black, brown, Indigenous, immigrant, and young people in Texas, Portland leaders are modeling forward-looking, compassionate leadership, by centering the people who face the biggest barriers to economic, racial and abortion justice,” said Christel Allen, Executive Director of Pro-Choice Oregon. “We are thankful we have local leaders that listen to us—people who have had or may to need to have an abortion—and are dedicating resources to the Northwest Abortion Access Fund. We hope other city, county and state leaders follow Portland’s powerful example with additional investments in abortion funds.”
“I know what it’s like to have to travel for health care, and not be able to sleep in my own bed after an abortion, because of political interference. The Northwest Abortion Access Fund was critical for me being able to access my abortion, which cost $10,000 after being lied to and delayed by anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers. I had to fly over 1,000 miles to an abortion provider who would provide me care, not unlike what Texans are facing. By investing in the Northwest Abortion Access Fund, the City of Portland is fighting back against abortion bans and supporting people seeking health care,” said Beth Vial, board member of Northwest Abortion Access Fund.
“With the crisis in abortion access at a fever pitch, every state and city should be working to secure equitable access to abortion care,” said Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH). “We applaud the Portland City Council for recognizing its role in expanding access to abortion, and thank the Northwest Abortion Access Fund for providing critical support to people seeking abortion care.”
With this funding allocation, Portland becomes the third city across the country in recent years to grant municipal resources for abortion care and support. In 2019, New York City first allocated municipal funding to the New York Abortion Access Fund to provide direct support to people seeking abortion care, followed by Austin, Texas, which allocated funding for practical support for abortion access.