Image: AP

New York City has set aside $250,000 to cover abortion expenses for uninsured people with a third of the money specifically earmarked for those traveling from outside the city seeking access to safe and legal abortion. The fund makes New York the first city in the country to designate money specifically for abortions.

The relatively small amount will probably help around 500 people get abortions through the New York Abortion Access Fund, but lawmakers also see the money as a statement against abortion bans taking place in other parts of the country.

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According to the New York Times, the money won’t necessarily go to Planned Parenthood, which already receives public funding and provides myriad other services, but rather to cover the cost of abortion for those without insurance:

“The abortion access fund provides payment to clinics on behalf of women who might not be able to pay for abortions, but are not covered by insurance or Medicaid. Roughly a third of the fund goes to women who come to New York for abortions.”

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Uninsured people seeking abortions in New York City can contact the Abortion Access Fund, which offers an assessment within a 24-hour period, and in some cases, provides referrals to groups that cover transportation costs. The Times reports that in 2018, the group helped 600 people cover abortion expenses.

City Councilwoman and chairwoman of the Council’s Women’s Caucus Carlina Rivera says that in the days before Roe v. Wade, the city’s less rigid abortion laws made New York a safer space for those looking to end pregnancies. She hopes to once again make the city “the beacon for the rest of the country.”

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Update June 17, 2019: A spokesperson for the New York Abortion Access fund has reached out to clarify that, while roughly about 30% of 2017's pledges went to those coming from other states, no funds in either the city’s or the organization’s budgets are designated specifically for those traveling to New York City for abortions.