The problems associated with accessing abortion care grow even greater outside the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. More than 1.2 million people live in rural areas of the state. Yet, all but one of our state's abortion providers are located in the Twin Cities. That situation adds to the cost of an abortion. Rural women have to shoulder any medical costs associated with an abortion plus housing, travel, time away from work, or child care for other children, along with other expenses.
All it takes is just one part of that net to unravel and the entire process falls apart. As one caller to the Pro-Choice Resources' abortion fund recently explained to one of my colleagues, "It was scary thinking I wouldn't be able to get my abortion done because I couldn't afford a motel, then my rides to and from canceled."
Still, women in Minnesota rank among the more fortunate. In more restrictive states, laws prohibit Medicaid and insurance purchased through the Affordable Care Act exchanges from covering abortion care. Additionally, medically unnecessary clinic regulations have been passed designed specifically to limit the number of abortion providers and abortion clinics available.
Put this all together and we have a situation that has become dire.
For example, my organization in Minnesota often helps women coming from South Dakota, where there is only one clinic located at the most southeastern corner of the state. Even if a woman is able to get there, South Dakota law requires a woman to wait 72 hours after an initial appointment to have an abortion. This forces people to drive hundreds of miles on multiple occasions or go outside the state for their abortion care.
At Pro-Choice Resources, we know firsthand that these restrictions are making abortion more unavailable and unaffordable. Every day, we hear from people who need abortion care and are struggling financially. Some qualify for medical assistance but cannot get their income verified because the documents they need are in a home they have fled because of domestic violence. Others are young women who are afraid to use their own insurance because their parents will kick them out. We help women who have no homes, and no one else to turn to in order to ensure they have the same rights as any other woman with more money or private, unsubsidized health insurance.
As one woman we assisted stated, "It's important to have these rights. It's hard being homeless, going to school full-time and working. Not having this option is ludicrous, it should be every woman's right."
That's why we are standing up for all people and families, as part of the All* Above All Be Bold Road Trip. We believe that wherever a woman lives, and however much she makes, every woman must be able to make her own decisions about pregnancy. That should be true even if, and perhaps especially if, a woman is already struggling.