Kenney administration contributes $500K to fund that aids Pa. abortion access

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Abortion is still legal in the state, but Philadelphia has taken a step toward ensuring access to the procedure, with a half-million dollar contribution to the Abortion Liberation Fund of Pennsylvania.

ALF-PA gives financial assistance to women who could not afford the procedure without help. The Fund has been around since 1985, when the state legislature banned Medicaid funding for abortions, but this is the first time the city has made a donation.

Mayor Jim Kenney says that’s because these are unique times.

“Women’s reproductive health rights are under attack from every sector of conservative politics — from the Supreme Court to state legislatures to Republican governors — and I think we have a responsibility to make sure people have access to health care.”

Dr. Aasta Mehta, medical officer for women’s health at the city’s Department of Public Health, says because Philadelphia is an airport hub, abortion providers in the city are already seeing an uptick in patients from out of state.

“Talking to providers on the ground, they have seen people from out of state coming to Philadelphia because we are accessible by air,” she said.

The increase is not to the extent as Pittsburgh, which is closer to states where abortion has been outlawed. However, Mehta said, “as that volume increases, [women seeking abortions] in the western part of the state might have to travel to see us because those services are going to be overwhelmed.”

ALF-PA provides money to several thousand women a year who lack access to the procedure not because of legality but because of the cost, which can be $400 to $3,000. The Fund also helps women pay for travel to access the procedure.

These are two of the biggest barriers. Travel costs, in particular, are expected to rise in the wake of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision overturning the constitutional protection of abortion rights.

Mehta says access to abortion is a significant part of reducing Philadelphia’s maternal mortality rate, which is higher than the national average, because the safety of the procedure is much higher than carrying a pregnancy to term.