May 8, 2022

Financing Abortions

I am feeling overwhelmed by the multitude of stories about what life in the United States will be like if Roe v. Roe is overturned. I keep thinking about what I can do to minimize the unnecessary tragedy a radical Supreme Court may be about to visit upon our country. Yes, I can contribute to Planned Parenthood and similar organizations, but my contributions will necessarily be small. Moreover, I am already contributing to Democrats, environmental organizations, cat welfare groups, and institutions involved in mitigating the catastrophe that is the war in Ukraine.

Although I feel incapable of offering really significant monetary aid to women in a post-Roe America, I do have a plan to suggest. Perhaps people can be found to implement it.

Some organizations are providing financial assistance to women who need to seek an abortion outside their state. The need for such support may soon become markedly greater. It will be difficult to meet this need, particularly over the long term, from charitable contributions alone.

Many people willingly take on the obligations of motherhood. For some women, however, the costs, both direct and indirect, of not obtaining a desired abortion are enormous. There are prenatal medical and delivery costs. Then there are opportunity costs incurred both before and after delivery. And, of course, the costs of supporting a child are an ever-increasing, seemingly interminable financial drain. This is to say nothing of the psychological costs to the prospective mother.

If, for any good reason, a pregnant woman wants to end her pregnancy, it is clearly wise for her to spend money on an abortion to avoid the much greater costs of carrying a baby to term and rearing him or her. In the post-Roe world, she may require thousands of dollars to obtain the procedure, but the investment will pay handsomely in the long run.

Such a financial calculus is unassailable, but what if the woman does not have the wherewithal to finance the plan. And what if no charitable organization is forthcoming with assistance? It is unlikely that charitable groups will be able to underwrite abortions for every woman in need of financial assistance. We don’t want a woman’s only option to be trusting an abortion from neighbor Melvin’s second cousin in his basement down the street.

The answer for a woman in such circumstances could be a low-interest “abortion loan.” Such a loan, whether provided by a charitable organization, special-purpose financial firm, bank, or even the federal government, would be sufficient to cover the travel, medical, and incidental expenses related to obtaining an out-of-state abortion. The loan would be paid back in one to five years, depending upon the financial resources of the borrower. Because the lending entity is partially or totally self-financing, the need for ongoing charitable income would be minimal or nonexistent. If the government is the lender, borrowers who have limited prospects for repayment could be allowed to perform community service in lieu of loan repayment.

No doubt some—particularly anti-abortion zealots—would object to abortion loans, particularly if the government is the lender. Nonetheless, the idea has promise. It is unfortunate that we may soon need novel responses to the loss of what has been a constitutional right for half a century, but novel responses may well be necessary.

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