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Virginia abortion fund will keep doing its work despite new difficulties

The Supreme Court
Mark Sherman
The US Supreme Court decided last June that there is no constitutional right to an abortion.

Last month when the Supreme Court issued it's decision overturning decades of precedent that there is a constitutional right to an abortion, Tannis Fuller was on the phone.

Fuller, the executive director of the Blue Ridge Abortion Fund, said on that Friday she was arranging for a hotel for a patient seeking an abortion.

"There's this really interesting piece of doing this work in the moment that it metaphorically comes crashing down around your ears. And then also recognizing that Monday morning we're going to get up and do the same thing,” she said.

After the Dobbs ruling, Abortion is now illegal in at least one of Virginia’s bordering states, West Virginia, and more could soon follow. That means more women might need to make a potentially costly trip to Virginia for care, and making abortion funds’ assistance more in demand.

The Blue Ridge Abortion Fund was established in 1989 and Fuller said the fund has dealt with changing regulations and environments.

“One of the reasons that I said that we are good at this is because this has existed in Virginia, under hostile administrations," Fuller said. "This will exist in Virginia as we are in the midst of a hostile administration, it will be the same work, regardless of how many states ban access to abortion."

But Fuller also says that these bans in neighboring states mean that the ability to get an abortion in the Commonwealth will be more difficult.

“Delaying access to medical care increases the complication with the access,” said Fuller.

Abortions can be more expensive the longer a patient waits, and the delays might mean they have to travel farther, or spend more time at a clinic. Fuller also highlights mental health impacts on patients experiencing delays.

“Abortion is safe. So I don't wanna say that it increases the risk inherent to the procedure: It doesn't. But all those things sort of around it get more complicated.”

Abortions are still legal in Virginia, but Governor Glenn Youngkin and Republicans are hoping to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. In an interview on CBS Youngkin wouldn’t say whether he would support a full ban on abortions.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Jahd Khalil is a reporter and producer in Richmond.
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