Emergency Abortion Fund

Third Wave Foundation’s Emergency Abortion Fund sought to prevent economic injustice from determining the reproductive lives of young people, particularly young people of color. After twelve years of service and more than $200,000 in grants awarded to over 2000 people, as of September 1, 2011, our Emergency Abortion Fund has closed. Read our 2010 Fund Report to learn more about our Fund’s work.

The Emergency Abortion Fund was one of Third Wave Foundation’s first grantmaking programs, responding to a critical need in the lives of young people across the United States. We thank our many abortion fund interns, who served as front-line support for thousands of callers. We also wish to thank the countless individuals whose gifts allowed us to operate the Emergency Abortion Fund, along with support from The Dyson Foundation and the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund.

If you need funding for an abortion, the National Network of Abortion Funds maintains an online database of national and local funds, at fundabortionnow.org. You can also call the National Abortion Federation hotline at 800-722-9100.

Reproductive Justice and Third Wave’s History of Abortion Funding

Third Wave Foundation believes that reproductive rights, including one’s right to choose to birth or not, often comes down to a question of access for groups that are marginalized, underserved, and lack access to money. We awarded emergency funding for abortion procedures so as to allow people from these communities to assert control over their bodies. Our fund maintained a particular focus on young people of color, minors, survivors of violence and rape, immigrants and undocumented people, and unemployed or underemployed people. Through our Emergency Abortion Fund, we sought to dis-entwine one’s belonging to an underprivileged group from one’s ability to access emergency reproductive care.

From Roe v. Wade to Hyde Amendment to Abortion Funding

In 1973, the Supreme Court decided the case of Roe w. Wade. In its ruling, the Court concluded that abortion was a fundamental right, but that as a pregnancy progressed, so did the state’s ability to restrict access to an abortion. In practicality, this landmark decision does not make abortion a fundamental right so much as it decriminalizes first trimester abortions. Shortly following Roe v. Wade, the Hyde Amendment was passed, and dramatically changed what the right to an abortion means if you are low-income and rely on the government for medical care.

The Amendment currently bans the use of federal funds to pay for abortions, with exceptions for cases of incest, rape, and life endangerment. The Hyde Amendment essentially makes Roe irrelevant for low-income women: if someone relies on Medicaid for their healthcare needs, it is because they cannot afford private health insurance. Someone who does not have that kind of income is unlikely to afford an abortion that could cost from the hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Whatever the intention of the Hyde Amendment, it functions as a tool to keep low-income people without choices, without rights, and ultimately without a say in the outcome of their lives.

Furthermore, unintended and undesired pregnancies often can affect one’s chances of social mobility. Many people we fund don’t want to have a child at the time they get pregnant because of how it might impact their ability to have a job or pay rent. The Hyde Amendment takes away a fundamental tool for social mobility from low-income people: the power to plan their families and their lives. It is in this sense that the fight against the Hyde Amendment is a fight for both economic and reproductive justice.

Abortion funds do the work that Hyde intends to prohibit. We believe that people have power when they have children if and when they want. That goes for the right to abort, birth, artificially inseminate, adopt, have healthcare, and maintain dignity throughout these processes.