Nevada nonprofit connects women with abortion care post-Roe

A woman holds a "Abortion is Health Care" sign as abortion rights activists rally outside the Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse in protest of the overturning of Roe Vs. Wade by the US Supreme Court, in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 24, 2022. - The US Supreme Court on Friday struck down the right to abortion in a seismic ruling that shredded five decades of constitutional protections and prompted several right-leaning states to impose immediate bans on the procedure. (Photo by Ronda Churchill / AFP) (Photo by RONDA CHURCHILL/AFP via Getty Images)

By Mark Credico

April 1, 2024

The Wild West Access Fund of Nevada helps cover the cost of abortion procedures for women who can’t afford them. The group also funds hotel stays, travel costs, and connects women with other resources.

After the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, contributions to the Wild West Access Fund of Nevada increased as abortion rights backers looked for any way to show their support for reproductive freedom.

Carla Ramazan and Maureen Scott, founders of the Wild West Access Fund of Nevada, started the nonprofit in 2021 as a grassroots fundraising organization dedicated to helping women seeking abortion care.

The group took in only $14,000 in pledges its first year, but by 2023, that number had risen to $168,000. The fund helps cover the cost of abortion care for women who can’t afford them, paying the clinics directly for the procedures. The organization also funds hotel stays, travel costs, and connects women with other resources.

When a patient connects with the Wild West Access Fund seeking help obtaining an abortion, the volunteers and organization’s staff work to cover all of the involved costs for the procedure, including room and board if needed. Once the procedure is completed, the fund deletes all of the client’s information to maintain their anonymity.

Thousands of women sought support last year

The group’s Executive Director, Macy Haverda, said the access fund received over 1,000 calls for aid last year, and got 98 calls in January alone. She said the group was able to help each of the calls in some way, whether they funded their care, connected them with resources, or referred them to other places that could help them better.

Haverda said travel costs—especially when women travel to Nevada from other states—usually comprise the most expensive service the access fund provides. In order to offset costs, the fund often partners with organizations from other states where some clients come from, because abortion is banned in their home state.

While donations have bolstered the group’s funding, Haverda said donations have slowed since the initial surge following the Court’s repeal of Roe in 2022. This “has made it very challenging just because people still need it,” she said.

Another challenge Haverda highlighted is the disparity in abortion services in Northern vs. Southern Nevada. She said that when it comes to connecting women to abortion resources, “Vegas is fairly easy, but the rest of the state is not,” because Las Vegas has more clinics and general abortion resources than the rest of the state.

According to abortionfinder.org, six of the seven in-person abortion providers in Nevada are located in Las Vegas. The only other one is the Planned Parenthood in Reno.

‘This one thing is potentially saving someone’s life’

The number of women needing to cross state lines to obtain abortions has increased since the Supreme Court removed federal abortion protections, with the Guttmacher Institute reporting that “nearly one in five” abortion patients traveled out of state to receive care in the first six months of 2023. Fourteen states have banned abortion completely since Roe was overturned, with seven others implementing severe restrictions on the procedure.

But banning abortions does not prevent them from happening. A 2013 study published in the American Journal of Public Health looked at World Health Organization data and worldwide abortion laws and found women who need abortions still seek it out regardless of restrictive laws.

The study also found that while outlawing abortions does not prevent them from being carried out, legal restrictions limiting the grounds for women to receive abortion care “increase the percentage of unlawful and unsafe procedures,” and that “the public health impact of unsafe abortion is directly linked to its legal status.”

“We know sometimes that this one thing is potentially saving someone’s life,” Haverda said, “or setting them up to make sure that they’re able to live their life.”

A significant body of research shows that low-income women and women of color disproportionately feel the negative effects of when abortion is banned.

Haverda echoed the findings of the research when she talked about how there are many systems in place to help women before they would need an abortion, but they often fail, especially for low-income women or women of color.

“That’s exactly why we exist, because there’s all of these systems that exist and all these things that will help you,” Haverda said, “but they almost always fail, they almost always break down.”

‘It’s really impactful’

While many of the interactions with women helped by the group do not go beyond connecting them with providers and covering their procedures, Haverda said some clients need more emotional support during the process.

She and the other volunteers are happy to offer support as much as they can, and some spend a full week helping one client. After a procedure is completed, Wild West Access Fund seeks feedback and insights from the women they’ve helped. Haverda said she will delete personal information, but “will definitely be saving” some of the responses she’s read after helping clients.

“It’s really impactful. Like, knowing how much of a difference you have made in some of these people’s lives, it’s a lot,” Haverda said. “You know that for some of these people you have absolutely changed the outcome of their entire future.”

RELATED: Supreme Court hears oral arguments in major abortion access case

 

  • Mark Credico

    Mark Credico is a born-and-raised Las Vegas native. He graduated from UNLV after writing for the school newspaper, then spent a year writing for the Las Vegas Review-Journal covering local government and breaking news.

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