Want to help people in need of abortions? Here’s how. | Pittsburgh City Paper

Want to help people in need of abortions? Here’s how.

click to enlarge Want to help people in need of abortions? Here’s how.
CP Photo: Lisa Cunningham
Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania CEO and President Sydney Etheredge

Pittsburgh abortion care worker Crystal Grabowski’s Twitter feed is currently full of cries of distress, not only for the local abortion clinics who are being inundated with calls since the collapse of Roe v. Wade, but for patients from nearby states who now have to travel to Pennsylvania to receive a legal abortion.

“We are drowning. We are drowning!” Grabowski tweeted on the Monday following the Supreme Court ruling. “So many patients! So many callers! How will we survive this?”

With Ohio’s six-week abortion ban now going into effect, Pittsburgh’s two abortion clinics — the Downtown location of Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania and East Liberty’s Allegheny Reproductive Health Center — are now finding themselves having to make room for even more patients than normal as out-of-state patients are having to travel to the commonwealth for abortions.

At a Downtown Pittsburgh rally the evening of the ruling, politicians encouraged the crowd to vote this November to ensure Pennsylvania keeps a Democratic governor. But Etna councilor Jessica Semler, who was one of the speakers at the event, stresses that urgent action is needed now and that politicians should not use the ruling to fundraise for their own campaigns.

“Dems should be using every tool at their disposal to treat this like the emergency it is,” Semler tells Pittsburgh City Paper. “Abolish the filibuster, pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, pressure large health care providers to expand access to medical abortions. There is no reason every OB-GYN and PCP office can’t offer this very safe, and most common method of abortion.”

Allegheny Reproductive Health posted online that the interest in volunteering has been “incredible,” but stressed that interested folks should not call clinics because their phone lines are dedicated to scheduling new Ohio and West Virginia patients as quickly as possible. PPWP UE Local 696, the unionized workers of Planned Parenthood of Western PA, also posted that they are answering calls, scheduling patients, and providing services.

Pittsburgh-based Abortion Defense Committee has stepped in to help gather support from those interested in helping take immediate action. ADC member Moira Abrams says the organization supports Planned Parenthood and its union, but works primarily to help raise funds and support for Allegheny Reproductive.

“We won't just be providing support in the form of volunteers and helping pick up the work where they're already taking on so much,” says Abrams, “but also supporting them morally and spiritually as they take on such a heavy load of clients from across this region.”

If you need an abortion:

If you are in need of an abortion, contact Allegheny Reproductive Health Center at 412-661-8811 or Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania at 1-800-230-7526. If you are not local, you can search for a provider at AbortionFinder.org. For abortion pills, visit PlanCPills.org/guide

If you can’t afford an abortion, find help at the National Network of Abortion Funds at abortionfunds.org/need-abortion.

Donate Financially:

If you have the means to give financially, you can donate at Western PA Fund for Choice, which helps fund abortions at Allegheny Reproductive, at wpafundforchoice.org, as well as the Vivian Campbell Fund, which supports patients of Planned Parenthood of Western PA, at plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-western-pennsylvania

You can also donate funds to the Abortion Defense Committee, which will help cover their volunteer coordination, outreach efforts, and community aid, in addition to “helping make sure that the material and everyday needs of the abortion workers are met,” according to Abrams. Donate on Cash App at $pghabortiondefense.

Nationally, you can donate to the National Network of Abortion Funds at abortionfunds.org/donate.


The Abortion Defense Committee is organizing volunteers to help provide clinic work for Allegheny Reproductive, which currently means answering phones. According to Abrams, the clinic has a small staff that needs help fielding the “hundreds and hundreds” of phone calls coming in from abortion patients in Ohio, in addition to people in need in Allegheny County and central Pennsylvania. “Our biggest thing right now is focusing on making sure all these calls get processed,” she says. “Because if we wait another week, then someone could pass the legal term in Pennsylvania, and then we couldn't even offer them an abortion.” To volunteer, email abortiondefensepgh@protonmail.com.

The Steel City Access Network, which works with clinics to get rides and other assistance to patients, is also accepting donations. Clinic escort Laura Horowitz recommends emailing steelcityaccessnetwork@gmail.com for more info.

click to enlarge Want to help people in need of abortions? Here’s how.
CP Photo: Lisa Cunningham
Protesters rally a the City County building Downtown on Fri., June 24.

Register to Vote:

While other steps are needed before November, Pennsylvania’s governor’s race this fall means a choice between Josh Shapiro, the Democratic candidate who believes abortion is health care, and Doug Mastriano, the GOP candidate who wants to ban abortion in the commonwealth. You can register to vote in Pennsylvania for the general election on or before Oct. 24. Learn how to register at vote.pa.gov.

Contact your Local Representatives:

Semler recommends that concerned citizens should call their federal reps. “Tell them why you’re angry,” she says. “There will be a massive influx of patients from bordering states coming to Pittsburgh seeking services.” If you don’t know who your local government officials are, find out by typing in your address at whoaremyrepresentatives.org.

Spread Knowledge:

In addition to volunteering and donating funds, Western PA Fund for Choice posts that “spreading accurate, comprehensive & inclusive resources and information about abortion access is just as important as donating!”