As abortion restrictions are tightening around the country, more abortion seekers are looking for practical support. The Apiary Collective defines practical support as “an individual or group that helps a person navigate the vast and complicated work of healthcare and the personal and economic circumstances that make it harder to get.”
For abortion access, practical support may be funding the procedure, helping with travel and other logistical needs. The Apiary Collective, founded in 2020, works nationwide to:
- improve communication between practical support organizations,
- identify gaps in research,
- advocate for inclusion of practical support considerations within abortion access,
- and centralize information for new and existing practical support organizations.
Practical support organizations can mean a wide variety of places but for abortion seekers, they are typically places like the Chicago Abortion Fund or Midwest Access Coalition. Abortion seekers reach out to those organizations for help, whether that be lodging, covering the cost of the procedure, covering the cost of birth control or any other general questions, and the Apiary Collective supports those organizations.
Marisa Falcon, co-founder and co-director for the Apiary Collective, and Tessa Benson, co-director, said the basis of practical support are strong relationships.
“Practical support is really complicated and nuanced and looks different for every single person,” Benson said. “There is no one scenario that looks the same.”
The Apiary Collective is not a direct service, so they are not working with patients themselves to provide resources.
While Falcon was drafting up ideas for what a space built for groups providing practical support would look like, the premise was to create a network to assist abortion seekers in the often confusing and complicated world of access.
“There hasn’t really been a single space in the movement that was specifically focused on practical support,” Falcon said. “As a result, there was no hub for people to share information and resources and no one pushing for a broader understanding around practical support.”
Navigating abortion can be difficult, and with increasing restrictions in some states and a possible future without Roe, Falcon and Benson are working to consolidate information and get people talking about practical support organizations and the care they may have to increase as restrictions are implemented.
The Apiary Collective is working with four different organizations – the Midwest Access Coalition, Northwest Abortion Access Fund, the Brigid Alliance and Fund Texas Choice – to build a model for what long-distance practical support looks like.
They have two big projects in progress. The first is a directory to aid abortion seekers and providers when bans go into place. Local organizations will need information from states and regions they have never worked with before and need to know what resources exist where.
The second project includes creating a framework for how practical support gets done. As Benson said, many people want to help improve abortion access or volunteer but don’t always know where to start. The Apiary Collective hopes to connect abortion seekers, abortion providers, allies and volunteers to fill that knowledge gap.
“In the coming months practical support is going to be really needed and we will need an all-hands-on deck effort to support people getting abortions,” Benson said.