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Donations to Missouri abortion rights groups surge after leaked Supreme Court draft

KP Benton, 19, of Louisville, Ky., advocates for abortion rights
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
KP Benton, 19, of Louisville, advocates for abortion rights last week in downtown St. Louis. Missouri is one of several states that would ban almost all abortions if the Supreme Court overturns the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Abortion-rights organizations in the St. Louis area have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations since Politico published a draft U.S. Supreme Court decision early last week that could overturn Roe v. Wade.

Donors want to make sure people who need abortions in Missouri and other states set to roll back abortion access can afford them, Missouri Abortion Fund Board President Michele Landeau said.

“They kind of want to do something," Landeau said. “And donating to an abortion fund is a really a tangible thing that you can do to help people who are actually being harmed by this legislation in real time. ... I think that a lot of people kind of find it a little bit cathartic to donate.”

In the week since someone leaked the draft opinion, the fund has received more $200,000, she said. That’s 20 times what it raised in all of May 2021.

Missouri is one of more than a dozen states that would outlaw abortions as soon as the landmark 1973 decision is overturned.

“In the coming months and years, it's only going to be harder for people to access abortion, especially if you live in a state like Missouri,” Landeau said. “I think that a lot of people are kind of cognizant of that fact more now than they ever have been.”

The Midwest Access Coalition, another organization that fundraises and coordinates travel and lodging for patients seeking abortions, also have had a huge increase in donations in the past week. Many of its clients travel from states with more restrictions on abortions to Illinois and other states.

Since last Monday, the organization has raised more than $80,000 from donors. That’s more than the organization raised in all of 2021, said Alison Dreith, director of strategic partnerships.

“And a lot of folks feel helpless, you know, and so it's an easy way for them to give back.” she said.

Media coverage of abortion issues inspires advocates to donate, Dreith said. Most of the organization’s budget comes from foundation-backed grants that are earmarked for certain uses, she said. Individual donations allow the fund more flexibility, since they can be used for whatever needs are the greatest.

Representatives from Pro-Choice Missouri declined to say how much the organization has raised in the past week but said they also have seen an increase in donations, with hundreds of new donors giving money — 20 times more people than in the average week.

However, a one-time contribution can only go so far, Executive Director Mallory Schwarz said.

“What we need is sustainable funding that will allow us to do this work for the long term, because we know we’re playing a long game in Missouri,” she said.

Follow Sarah on Twitter: @petit_smudge

Sarah Fentem is the health reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.