An organization that facilitates safe abortion access in the Midwestern United States says that it will most likely double the number of clients they support this year compared to last year.
Midwest Access Coalition assists with the costs of obtaining an abortion, including transportation, gas, food, medication and childcare, said Alison Dreith, director of Strategic Partnerships at Midwest Access Coalition.
In 2021, the organization supported 800 people seeking abortions. This year, that number was reached in mid-July, meaning that they will more than likely double the number for 2022, Dreith said.
“That first Monday after the Supreme Court decision came down, we came back to work and we had over 200 missed messages, voicemails, and text messages,” she said in an interview with the Daily Yonder. “So we closed down our hotline for the first time ever just to be able to answer those 200 messages.”
Although the organization serves both rural and urban clients, Dreith said rural clients have some of the hardest times accessing care because clinics are not located close to them. That’s where the organization comes in.
“A lot of times that’s pushing our clients to have a longer trip, where they have to travel an extra day, just to be able to get to their appointment on time,” Dreith said. “Now that the Supreme Court decision has happened, we’re seeing an increase of clients choosing to get abortion pills online, and self-manage their abortion at home, just because getting to an airport is so difficult. Or it becomes so cumbersome or expensive.”
Midwest Access Coalition recently started a partnership with Elevated Access, which works with volunteer pilots to provide flights to patients seeking abortions and gender-affirming care.
“Generally, everyone in the United States lives within 30 minutes of a municipal airport, whether they know it or not these small little airfields exist in communities,” Dreith said.
Elevated Access flew its first client from Oklahoma to receive care in Kansas earlier this summer, said Fiona, who works at Elevated Access and asked her last name not be used for privacy and safety concerns.
Airports in rural communities offer a bit of privacy not found at larger airports, she noted.
“There’s no TSA, there’s nobody asking you all these questions,” Fiona said in an interview with the Daily Yonder. “When you drive up to the plane, the pilot welcomes you on board, flies you to where you need to go, you do your medical procedure.”
Currently, Elevated Access works with 800 volunteer pilots, but is hoping to recruit additional volunteers. Some may be more concentrated in certain areas, like California, Fiona noted. They are specifically looking for pilots who can fly out of rural communities with patients.
“Our perspective is that all Americans should have bodily autonomy and the freedom to make the best healthcare decisions for themselves and their family,” she said. “Reproductive care is a private matter and the government should not dictate what people do with their own bodies.”