Advocates: Confusion, fear over abortion ban leads to decline in requests for out-of-state care
Advocates say confusion around Indiana’s near-total abortion ban is hindering access to care — even from states where abortion is still legal and accessible. The only statewide abortion fund in Indiana has seen a decline in the number of people reaching out for resources.
The Hoosier Abortion Fund offers financial support to people seeking abortion care, including out-of-state appointments.
Jessica Marchbank is the state programs director for All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center, which runs the program. She said the number of calls dropped by nearly half after the ban took effect and monthly numbers continue to decrease.
“We know that this is not that suddenly there are a lot fewer people who are needing or wanting abortions,” Marchbank said.
Data from the program shows the number of calls jumped by nearly 3,000 in the 2022 to 2023 fiscal year compared to the previous year. Marchbank said a contributing factor to that increase was more people learning about what abortion funds are and what resources they provide.
Marchbank said the drop in calls in the past few months is likely a result of confusion and fear around the abortion ban.
“We've been in this sort of, I started to say, roller coaster, but it's been more like a pinball machine of status in terms of what is abortion access going to look like in Indiana,” Marchbank said.
The state of abortion rights in Indiana has been debated in the statehouse since the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in June 2022. Marchbank said even as an advocate she had to check everyday to make sure she knew the correct status as the state and advocates went back and forth.
Marchbank said some people have reached out not knowing the ban was in effect and others were afraid just reaching out could get them in trouble.
“It's easy to listen to situations that are happening in other states that are even worse, and to think it's probably really impossible to get an abortion here, too,” Marchbank said.
Marchbank said people need to know they are still allowed to seek abortion care out-of-state and to talk about seeking that care.
The Hoosier Abortion Fund wants to make those resources and conversations accessible.
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The program primarily focuses on the procedural costs, but out-of-state care has additional costs, such as travel and child care if the person already has children.
“Although it was already difficult to get an abortion in Indiana prior to 2022, we knew it was going to be more difficult,” Marchbank said. “And so we began reaching out to other regional abortion support funds and practical support organizations.”
Marchbank said Indiana was on the other side of this type of collaboration when abortion was more accessible within the state, but now other groups are working with The Hoosier Abortion Fund to support people from Indiana.
“It's just really inspiring and affirming,” Marchbank said. “And it gives me hope because we're not alone, just like our callers aren't alone.”
Marchbank said the program has also developed more funding relationships with abortion care providers. She said prior to 2022, they worked with about 20 providers, and now they work with over 50 across nine states.
Abigail is our health reporter. Contact them at email@example.com.