Publications often turn towards the West Coast or the Northeast to highlight progressive successes, but Georgia’s own Access Reproductive Care Southeast was recently featured in Marie Claire.
In a moving piece, What Happens When You Can’t Afford an Abortion?, the author highlights the barriers many low-income pregnant folks face when trying to get an abortion and the work ARC-Southeast does to help folks get access to the care they need.
Phoning an abortion clinic is like calling any doctor’s office: polite, professional, but not personal. Dialing Njoku at ARC-Southeast is a different experience, like calling a girlfriend. “Because this issue is politicized, people tend to be rigid with these conversations,” she says. “I try to make it more casual, like, ‘Hey, girl, what’s good? Let’s talk about this abortion.'”
If ARC-Southeast sounds familiar, that’s because this blog has highlighted their work in the past. The executive director, Oriaku Njoku, started the abortion fund last year along with two women she worked with at a local abortion clinic. Now, the organization receives hundreds of calls each month from folks who cannot afford the procedure, which is not covered by insurance.
As the Marie Claire piece highlights — and it’s a great read, definitely check it out — ARC-Southeast is making a difference one caller at a time.
If Njoku hadn’t listened to the voice mail, promptly contacted the clinic to clear up the confusion, and re-sent the pledge, the caller would have had to reschedule her appointment, which could push it back weeks, at which point her abortion would cost several hundred dollars more.
In other words, that $45—a sum many people blow through in a single night out—nearly made the difference for this woman between getting an abortion or bearing a child she did not want and could not afford. “The reality is, some folks scrape together all the money they can and still come up short,” Njoku says. “Some ask, ‘Is a $45 pledge meaningful?’ Yes, it is, because women get turned away for that.”
Low-income women, who are disproportionately women of color, often have to navigate taking time off from work, arranging childcare, traveling across state lines, and booking overnight accommodations because of all the regulations limiting when and how someone can access abortion care. This is on top of paying out of pocket for the procedure because politicians at both the state and federal level have banned various public and private insurers from covering the procedure.
When a pregnant person gets an abortion, they should be able to access care without shame or stigma heaped on by protesters outside clinics, without government mandated lies, and without having to sacrifice next month’s rent just to get a medical procedure.
ARC-Southeast helps lift one of those burdens from pregnant people seeking abortion care. And, as Njoku told Better Georgia earlier this year, it is incredible work to help people in need.
“Since doing this work, I’ve never been more proud to be a Southerner,” Njoku said. “When you think about the strength and resiliency of people of color, especially, but Southerners, in general, who are accessing care. Like, we will do what we need to do to get the care that we need and deserve.”