At Yellowhammer Fund we have watched the unfolding COVID-19 crisis sweep the country and knew that for those in the South, who already struggled with poverty and access to basic healthcare needs, increasing our support is a matter of life and death. Because of this we have made some immediate changes in our operations to bridge a gap where our local and federal governments have failed.
Here are some ways we are specifically addressing this access crisis:
- Expanding access to emergency contraception in our community. The best way to prevent abortion, as always, is to make sure that those who don’t want to be pregnant don’t get pregnant to begin with. That’s harder today, with so many contraceptive methods locked away in pharmacies that people may not be able to get to, or in stores that are on limited hours, or in doctor’s offices or health clinics that are overwhelmed right now. To help combat that problem, we are now offering FREE EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION BY MAIL FOR ALL PEOPLE IN ALABAMA, MISSISSIPPI AND THE FLORIDA PANHANDLE. To get EC click here. Limiting unwanted pregnancy will not just help people avoid the financial burden of needing an abortion, it will keep patient load down so clinics are less overwhelmed by patients.
- Increasing per patient financial support. Prior to this week our average patient pledge was $250 for a first trimester procedure. That isn’t enough for many people. Callers who already received pledges are now calling back to say they are facing layoffs, furloughs and other expenses and can no longer afford a termination. We’ve increased pledges to meet those new gaps, with the understanding that this will likely become more common as the COVID-19 crisis unfolds. In the last week we have more than doubled our usual pool of patient funding, and we expect to pledge a full $10,000 just this week alone. We will continue with a larger budget until the crisis subsides or our funding runs out.
- Reintroducing patient gift cards. At the beginning of 2020 we provided patients who called for financial help with $50 gift cards in addition to funding. We wanted to support those who were already struggling financially with a no-strings, discretionary gift that would allow them to purchase something they may have put on hold because of their abortion need. This was an action we were able to institute thanks to the generosity of donors during our 2019 #GivingTuesday campaign, and one we are bringing back today.
- Working with our local partners to ensure basic needs in the community are being met. We have been grateful to be able to assist The Knights & Orchids Society in Selma and Margins in Birmingham distribute essential items like food, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, contraceptives, gas cards and grocery cards.
No person should be forced to become or remain pregnant when they do not want to be – especially not in a time where medical care is limited and job loss is rampant. And no one should be without access to lifesaving items that will keep their families fed and safe, either due to poverty or an inability to leave the home. We will do what we can, for as long as we can. We owe Southerners nothing less.
We will continue these new efforts for as long as the crisis continues, or until we no longer have the financial ability to keep these programs running. If you have the ability, we desperately need you to donate today to help callers access care while it is still legally available. If you are unable to due to economic uncertainty, we most definitely understand.
Always be sure you put on your own oxygen mask, first. Only then should you reach out and help others.