Representatives from the abortion fund provider Indigenous Women Rising told members of the Interim Indian Affairs Committee on Monday that their monthly abortion fund budget has doubled since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade.
Jonnette Paddy, Diné and IWR abortion fund director, told the committee on Monday that IWR previously spent $20,000 a month providing abortion patients with help to obtain an abortion but in 2021, that expenditure rose to $40,000 a month.
Paddy told the committee that in 2020, IWR served 58 clients but in 2021, when Texas’ six-week gestational ban went into effect, the grassroots organization served 277 clients.
Paddy said that at that time, the organization began providing what she called solidarity funding to individuals who are unhoused, are later in pregnancy, are minors, undocumented or Black.
In 2022, the year of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, IWR funded 600 clients, which represented a 116 percent increase over the previous year, she said.
Paddy said that the average IWR pledge is about $950 and the money could go directly to the abortion clinic to help pay for the care but also can go toward practical forms of support such as travel costs, child care or food.
Justin Lorenzo, Laguna, Hopi, Maidu and the emergence fund director, said the fund for Indigenous birthing needs can include help with childcare, diapers, breast and chest feeding supplies. Lorenzo said the IWR emergence fund can bridge the gap created by the fact that the Medicaid does not currently cover doula care and, though it does cover midwifery, not all providers accept Medicaid.
Lorenzo said the emergence fund hopes to grow by offering a hub where Indigenous individuals can recommend providers who are culturally sensitive. He said the fund has a monthly budget of $15,000 but intends to grow that in 2024.
Jennifer Lim, IWR communications director, said IWR also attends various Indigenous events, from powwows to Pride events to distribute eco-friendly free menstrual products as well as contraception.
State Sen. Shannon Pinto, Diné and a Democrat from Tohatchi, said she “applauds” the organization “in covering this niche in this particular area.”
“We should go and have our health evaluated and make the best decision for ourselves,” Pinto said.
State Rep. John Block, R-Alamogordo, asked IWR about donors. Lim said IWR receives grants from a variety of funders and the grants can range from $3,000 to $100,000, in addition to individual donations.
Lorenzo said IWR does not receive any state or federal grant money and that it is working on moving away from being a private foundation to a public charity which effects how the organization can receive some grants.*
*Updated: This story was updated to reflect that IWR is in the process of shifting from a private foundation to a public charity rather than a private charity as previously reported.