The Baltimore Abortion Fund (BAF), a grassroots non-profit organization servicing Maryland, launched a new Emergency Contraceptive Kit (ECK) drop-off service on Tuesday, November 1.
Operating in Baltimore County, the program will be accessible to Goucher students who live on campus or in the surrounding area. Baltimore City and Montgomery County are also in the service’s jurisdiction.
“This service is one we have been hoping to offer for some time, and we are excited to be able to serve our community in this new way,” said Erin Case, BAF’s Practical Support Manager, “Emergency contraceptives, pregnancy tests, and condoms are all expenses that may be out of reach for folks who need them… We want to ensure that people in our community can get what they need, when they need it.”
Widely referred to as the “morning after pill”, emergency contraceptives (EC), are used within five days after sex to prevent a pregnancy before it starts. Most brands, such as Plan B One Step, are available over the counter at drug stores and health centers.
“Access to emergency contraception is crucial because it allows people another option to prevent pregnancy,” Case said.
Goucher’s Health Center offers EC for $35, no appointment necessary. However, the Health Center is open 9-5 Monday-Friday– when many students may have class, practice, or other commitments. There is no way to access EC on campus over the weekend with the Health Center closed.
Towson’s sparse public transportation creates difficulty getting off campus for students without cars. Walking to and from the closest CVS or Walgreens would take approximately an hour and using a ride-share service like Uber or Lyft could cost around $20 round-trip.
BAF’s service operates seven days a week and both the kits and delivery are free. Each kit comes discreetly packaged and includes one pack of Plan B emergency contraceptive, two pregnancy tests, condoms, and information on how to use these items, according to Case.
Students can order their kit online through BAF’s website. Case said that once the request is received, BAF will reach out for any additional information they need via text or email within 24 hours if the request comes in during the week or 48 hours if the request comes over the weekend.
If a student lives off campus or in a place where the kit can be dropped off at the door, such as a house, BAF will drop it off to the provided delivery address.
For on-campus students, who live in communal residence halls, alternative collection methods are possible. BAF will contact the student for them to coordinate a meeting place for the kit to be handed off or a time for the recipient to pick up the kit from BAF.
At this time the ECK service is run by BAF staff members only, but Case said they are exploring ways to get volunteers involved.
“I encourage students to join our newsletter and keep an eye on our website for any volunteer opportunities,” Case said, “Students who have cars can also get involved by joining the Baltimore Abortion Fund as Practical Support Volunteers and helping drive our clients to their appointments.”
Additional services BAF offers include financial support for people seeking an abortion in Maryland, as well as aiding with transportation, lodging, and translation. These programs are predominantly volunteer and donation-supported.
“Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, we are receiving a higher volume of requests for funding and practical support than we have in the past,” Case said, “We are seeing people travel longer distances to access abortion care, and therefore people with higher support needs. For example, someone who is traveling from out of state may need help booking a hotel, paying for gas costs, purchasing food, etc.”
Maryland’s wide scope of abortion access and proximity to the Midwest and South make it a haven for people from states where access is limited. The last few years have seen a dramatic increase in the number of abortion bans and restrictions in some states, particularly following the overturning of Roe v. Wade this past summer.
“Despite the change in need, we will continue offering wraparound support to as many people as we are able to,” said Case.