Update, August 10: Following the initial publication of this article, Rewire News Group learned that Planned Parenthood Federation of America has extended the Emergency Access Fund, at least partially, through August and September. This is a developing story.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America told staff in June it would be pausing its Emergency Access Fund, which helped cover travel costs for people seeking an abortion. In some cases, these funds were even being used to help patients receiving care at clinics not affiliated with Planned Parenthood.
In an internal email shared with me by staff members from multiple Planned Parenthood affiliates, PPFA said it received $4.5 million to fund the emergency access program in fiscal year 2023, but that “we unfortunately expect significantly fewer resources for the program” in 2024.
PPFA, the national parent organization of regional Planned Parenthood affiliates, will pause the fund starting on August 1. The email directed affiliate staff to “put new processes into place that do not rely on PPFA EAF funding.”
The email suggests that more funding may become available for patient travel expenses once PPFA’s 2024 budget is finalized. However, even a brief pause in the availability of these funds could be devastating for people seeking an abortion.
Abortion funds and practical support organizations across the country are reporting a drop in donations after the “rage-giving” spike that followed the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade last year.
One less source of funding for the many patients who need to leave their home states for an abortion could prevent some from accessing care. It also leaves already cash-strapped abortion funds to fill in the gaps.
One staff member said pausing the fund forced their affiliate to stop all funding of practical support for patients. A staff member at a different affiliate said they were directed to send patients to local abortion funds instead.
Some sources questioned whether money was really the issue. A recent wave of layoffs at PPFA left many of the organization’s programs understaffed, including PPFA’s Patient Navigator program, they said.
A PPFA spokesperson gave the following statement:
Planned Parenthood’s Emergency Access Fund (EAF) is one among many funding streams that PPFA and Planned Parenthood affiliates offer to provide financial assistance to abortion-seeking patients in need. Our highest priority is ensuring we are supporting patients with the greatest need in a rapidly changing abortion access landscape. PPFA is currently evaluating the EAF and plans to implement a new system for distributing patient travel support funds equitably across the country.
This post was adapted from a Twitter thread.