The demand for abortion and contraceptive services is continuing to grow.
Sadly, not everyone has access to abortion and contraceptive services due to financial hardship and other barriers to healthcare.
As the decriminalisation of abortion care was passed throughout Australia, regular donors and funding for MSI Australia, our non-profit healthcare services faced a decline.
Unfortunately decriminlisation didn’t mean abortion care became embedded and funded in the public healthcare system.
This has meant that women and pregnant people are falling through the gaps.
To address this, in 2017 we started the Choice Fund to expand financial support to people who need it.
The Choice Fund provides support for those who have complicated factors in their life, such as experiences with sexual, domestic or family violence, or homelessness.
Everyone’s experience is different and every dollar counts.
How has the Choice Fund made a difference in people’s lives?
2022 was the first time we ever made a callout for donations on social media. In fact, we announced two callouts for donations in February alone.
The first callout was for a mother of two children who was experiencing financial hardship. She had mental health diagnoses and lacked mental health support. We needed to raise $470 in 1 day and received $1,000 in donations.
Just two weeks after the first callout, we announced a second call out for Ashley*, a 24-year-old single mother that wanted access to abortion but could not afford it. Ashley* had experienced family violence. We needed $1,220 to support Ashley* to ensure that she did not have to use her rent money to pay for her procedure. We raised $287 in 4 days.
Unfortunately for Ashley*, we did not raise the full amount of funds and we had to touch base with local organisations in her LGA to secure the remainder of funding.
Due to the high amount of funding requests that we receive, the Choice Fund is depleted.
It is critical that we continue to receive donations so we can rely on a steady stream of income to provide support for anyone who needs it so that they can access essential and safe sexual and reproductive healthcare services.
Yasmine is one of our Case Managers who directly supports people who need access to the Choice Fund and individualised care.
She says that the best part of her job is knowing that we are helping people to access healthcare.
Below, she shares her firsthand experience in supporting people who urgently need financial support.
Brenna: Why is the Choice Fund important?
Yasmine: The Choice Fund is, for many clients, the only way they are able to exercise control over their body at what is a very stressful time. It also enables our organisation to bridge a significant gap in healthcare provision in many areas of Australia. The Choice Fund is a last resort for clients who would otherwise be forced to continue with a pregnancy.
Brenna: Is the demand for Choice Fund donations high?
Yasmine: We receive requests for funding every day. Over the 2021–2022 financial year so far, we have received an average of 6–7 requests per week for people needing help to pay for an abortion.
Brenna: What kind of impact do Choice Fund donations have?
Yasmine: The Choice Fund does not make a small impact on people’s lives. In fact, donations to the Choice Fund have a huge impact in letting pregnant people have bodily autonomy and control over their own bodies.
We see many cases of pregnant people in abusive relationships who after accessing the fund tell us for the first time they feel a sense of control. The Choice Fund creates an opportunity for a new beginning. Accessing abortion care can mean the difference between merely existing or, living a life with a renewed sense of hope.
The majority of our clients already have children; they express how much more difficult it will be to cope emotionally, financially and physically if they cannot access abortion care. The Choice Fund allows some distress about their ability to care for their children, to be lessened.
Brenna: Why should you donate to the Choice Fund?
Yasmine: When you donate to the Choice Fund you help someone to access safe and affordable reproductive healthcare. This is a person like you, with a unique story, hopes and dreams. Your donation has lasting impacts on pregnant people and their families.
Brenna: What is the donation process like?
Yasmine: It’s easy to donate to the Choice Fund. Donations can be made for $20, $50, $200, $500 or a custom amount. You can also give a monthly donation, to ensure there are no gaps in financial support.
Nobody should have to face barriers to essential health care.
As we approach the end of the financial year, give the gift of choice.
This month, we have an ambitious goal to raise $100,000 by the end of June.
For every dollar that you donate, MSI Australia matches it with organisational funds or in-kind clinical care.
Donations of AU$2 or more are tax deductible.
You can make a valuable donation here: https://shoutforgood.com/charities/msi-australia
Yasmine is a Case Manager for MSI Australia
Brenna Bernardino is a Health Communications Officer for MSI Australia
*Name changed to protect anonymity