Nonprofits fear ‘legal jeopardy’ following Roe reversal

Nonprofits fear ‘legal jeopardy’ following Roe reversal

For many years, nonprofit organizations in the United States have been providing financial assistance to low-income women seeking abortions. But with the U.S. Supreme Court having overturned Roe v. Wade, the United States no longer has a national standard for abortion rights — and such nonprofits, according to Washington Post reporter Christopher Rowland, are now worried about the type of legal exposure they might be facing.

“The threat of legal jeopardy in the wake of the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade is forcing a retreat by nonprofit groups that provide vital financial support to low-income women seeking abortions,” Rowland reports in an article published by the Post on July 15. “Sources of assistance are drying up just as economically disadvantaged women and other pregnant people in states that have moved to ban abortion need money more than ever — not just for medical fees, but for plane tickets, gas and hotels as they seek to travel to abortion-friendly states far from home.”

Rowland notes that “health insurance coverage for abortion” has been “spotty or nonexistent” — especially in red states, but even in blue states as well.

READ MORE: Brett Kavanaugh voted to strike down Roe — but believes there is a constitutional 'right to interstate travel'

“Local and regional abortion funds, which receive grants from large national advocacy groups as well as donations from grass roots supporters, have for years filled the gap,” Rowland explains. “But disruptions to that support system are rapidly unfolding — and threaten to exacerbate inequality between those who struggle to pay for abortion and those who can more readily book a ticket to a state where abortion is legal, advocates from multiple states said in interviews.”

Rowland points to Frontera Fund, a Texas-based nonprofit, as an example of a post-Roe “shuttered fund.”

“At least seven abortion funds in Texas have shut down and stopped paying for procedures and travel assistance since the June 24 Supreme Court decision, fearing their staff and volunteers would face criminal prosecution — even for abortions obtained out-of-state,” Rowland reports. “Leaders of the funds said they fear that simply supplying advice to patients on how to obtain an out-of-state abortion could put them in legal jeopardy.”

Frontera Fund’s founder, Rockie Gonzalez, told the Post, “If we want to keep our staff and our board out of jail, we have to cease operations. We are seeing the criminalization of an entire network that has built a functional safety net for pregnant people.”

READ MORE: Anti-choice extremists are declaring war on abortion drugs: report

Attorneys who support abortion rights, according to Rowland, “warn that providing aid to residents of states with prohibitions — even when done from seemingly safe territory outside those states — may carry risks.”

“The National Abortion Federation and its NAF Hotline Fund — a large advocacy and abortion funding group in Washington, D.C., supported with tens of millions of dollars from billionaire Warren Buffett’s charitable foundation, public records show — said it has stopped sending payments to abortion funds in multiple states with abortion bans, including Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Kentucky,” Rowland observes. “The federation said it continues helping patients travel to states where abortion is legal and maintains its hotline to offer guidance nationwide. But continuing to support local abortion funds in hostile states could expose the national organization to legal danger, Veronica Jones, NAF’s chief operating officer, said in an interview.”

Jones told the Post, “Failing to incorporate this new reality into our decision-making would put our entire operation at risk, ultimately leaving hundreds of thousands without access to care.”

READ MORE: Even if Griswold stands, states are likely to ban contraception

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