The story of one woman’s life, her abortion, and the help she received from The CAIR Project.
It doesn’t matter what her name is. All you need to know is that she is 36, a single mother and a hair stylist in a long-term relationship who got pregnant this summer.
It was unplanned, unwanted and she didn’t have insurance.
So she Googled “need help funding an abortion” and found The CAIR Project, a nonprofit that serves as Washington state’s abortion fund.
In the last four years, the number of grants made by The CAIR Project — helping to pay for abortions and surrounding costs — has almost doubled. In 2012 it issued 299 grants. This year the nonprofit, funded by donors, is on track to help 550 clients.
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It’s not because abortions are on the rise, but because women are learning that their private-insurance deductibles are too high, their military insurance withholds coverage, or they have no insurance at all.
So it’s no wonder that an increasing number of people are turning to The CAIR Project — strangers, in other words — to help fund their abortions.
This is music to the ears of those who oppose abortion, who will come out of the woodwork to call this woman and others like her names of their own. To judge her, chide her, to cite Bible verses with one breath and damn her to hell with the next.
I wonder how many of those same people would have been there for her had she gone through with the pregnancy. If they would have helped pay her bills or done the 2 a.m. feeding, cooked and cleaned or taken over an afternoon of child care.
“I’m teetering on the edge right now,” the woman told me the other day. “With my daughter, it was never a question I was going to be a parent.”
At that time, though, she had insurance and paid maternity leave. Now she makes too much to qualify for Medicaid.
“With this, almost 14 years later, I don’t have my parents around to help me,” she said. She and her daughter live with her sister. She rides the bus two hours every day to get to work. Her daughter’s father “is great at helping to raise her, but not much financially,” she said.
“It’s just me, self-employed. And the insurance is so expensive.”
Terminating her pregnancy was the better choice for her — and for taxpayers — “than living on the system,” she said, referring to Department of Social and Health Services benefits.
“There was no question, there was no way to do this. It was not a possibility.”
She was able to save up three-quarters of what she needed for the procedure, “and I think that helped show my dedication to what I needed to get done,” she said. “I knew that my daughter and I could eat that week.”
We talk a lot about access to safe and legal abortion, but that access includes being able to pay for it.
One slip and she might have been forced to struggle even more mightily to make ends meet.
Projects like The CAIR Project get around financial barriers like the Hyde Amendment, a now-40-year-old federal policy that stripped abortion coverage out of Medicaid. (Washington is one of 15 states where Medicaid covers abortion. Idaho, which is within The CAIR Project’s coverage area, does not.)
Some Democrats are now seeking to have the Hyde Amendment repealed, saying it is discriminatory to low-income women on insurance that withholds abortion coverage, and those on federally funded health plans.
While Washington is safe from Hyde, we need to remember that there are still major barriers to abortion care.
If a woman has an unplanned, unexpected and unwanted pregnancy — and it happens every day to responsible women using birth control with partners that they know and love — she should be able to have a safe and legal abortion without having to ask strangers for help.
A right without access is no right at all.