Talking Points: The City of St. Petersburg’s Allocation of ARPA Funds Should Reflect Local Priorities: Building The World We Need

The City of St. Petersburg’s Allocation of ARPA Funds Should Reflect Local Priorities: Building The World We Need 

Vision for Comprehensive Coverage of Abortion in St. Petersburg 

  • The St. Petersburg Reproductive Rights Resolution adopted by the City Council on June 4, 2020 declares that each of us should be able to live, work, and make decisions about our future, including whether or not to have an abortion, with dignity and respect. Someone who can make decisions about their health care — including whether to become a parent — has more control over their economic security. 
  • As we work toward rebounding from the impacts of the pandemic, the City of St. Petersburg has an opportunity to meet the full needs of our community when it comes to abortion access— and to use ARPA funds in a way that reflects our values.
  • We want our City officials to act on the values of the Reproductive Rights Resolution and to stay focused on the health, safety, and economic security of our communities, particularly people of color working to make ends meet. Our ask is to dedicate $40,000 of the ARPA funds to Tampa Bay Abortion Fund to improve abortion access for our community, including covering the costs for: 
    • Abortion procedures & practical support costs in St. Petersburg, including coverage for travel or lodging within St. Pete. 
    • Comprehensive coverage of abortion for St. Pete residents, including abortion procedures in St. Pete, transportation for residents traveling within St. Pete and/or traveling from St. Pete zip codes to other locations for abortion service, and lodging in those locations. (Travel is frequently necessary for St. Pete residents as the St. Pete clinics are limited in scope and often, necessary services are not offered locally.) 
    • Emergency contraception supplies for St. Pete residents. 
    • Care kit supplies that include heating pads, pregnancy tests, emergency contraception, condoms, ibuprofen and dramamine, ginger snaps and menstrual pads. 
    • Abortion doula services. 
  • We want our City officials to ensure that however much we earn, each of us can make decisions about pregnancy and parenting that are best for us. o Ensuring that we can each get reproductive health care — such as birth control, pregnancy tests, prenatal care, and abortion — is an important part of ensuring equal economic opportunities. 
  • We’re reimagining and working toward a future where each of us can live, work, thrive, and raise healthy and safe families. 
    • We’re reimagining what our future looks like — not just one where abortion is legal, but where everyone who wants an abortion can get it without stigma and without going broke. 
    • We’re reimagining a future where parents of all economic means are thriving. 
    • We’re reimagining a society where everyone is able to receive the abortion care they need and create their families without barriers, fear, or interference from others. A society that leads with compassion and puts our families’ health, safety, and real-life needs first. 

About the of Tampa Bay Abortion Fund

  • The Tampa Bay Abortion Fund (TBAF), which serves the residents of St. Petersburg, continues to receive an increase in requests for financial assistance for abortion care, due to the significant job losses and loss of income. 
    • TBAF is a community-based organization, run by volunteers, that helps people in St. Petersburg and neighboring cities pay for their abortion care. 
    • TBAF provides direct financial support for St. Pete residents in need of abortion care and related costs. 
    • In the four years TBAF has been responding to the need for help accessing abortion in Tampa Bay, the demand has increased exponentially. Since COVID hit in March 2020, call volume has more than tripled. In 2020 TBAF had a total of 272 callers, 2021 volume is expected to be 900 or more. 
    • Not only has caller volume to TBAF increased, the number of clients who are able to pay for some portion of their abortion care (transport, procedure cost, childcare, prescriptions) has decreased. 

Why This Matters: Understanding the Connection Between the COVID-19 Pandemic and Abortion Access

The Impact of the Pandemic is Unprecedented

  • The pandemic has disrupted the lives of St. Petersburg residents in unprecedented ways. People have gotten sick, lost their jobs, and are caring for children who can’t be in daycare or school. Financial stresses are greater than ever. The burdens are falling hardest on women and people of color working to make ends meet, especially Black and brown women. 
  • The most marginalized in St. Petersburg – essential workers, those with low income, communities of color, undocumented people, young people – have been hardest hit by the virus itself and the economic fallout of the pandemic. 
  • Each of us should be able to live, work, and make decisions about our health and our future with dignity and economic security. 
  • Black communities, especially Black women, bear the brunt of the deep inequities in our health care system — a result of systemic racism. This leads to people’s health concerns being routinely ignored, worse outcomes for COVID-related health issues, higher rates of maternal and infant death, and lack of access to abortion care — the list goes on. 

Abortion Care and Pandemic Relief 

  • The pandemic reminds us that while some health care can be delayed, pregnancy-related care can’t.
  • For someone who is pregnant and doesn’t want to be, lack of access to timely abortion care can become a dire emergency. 
    • A delay of days or weeks can have multiple harmful effects — or push care entirely out of reach. 
    • Denying or delaying care can have profound and lasting consequences. 
    • Studies show that a woman who wants an abortion but is denied is more likely to live in poverty and is more likely to not be able to cover her basic living needs. 
    • The unanticipated expense of abortion care can be overwhelming for someone who doesn’t have insurance coverage for it. 
      • Research shows that nearly half of Americans are unable to afford an unanticipated $400 expense. Even a small allocation of funds can make a difference between getting abortion care or not for many people. 
      • Congress currently bans Medicaid from covering abortion, and the State of Florida will not allow state funds to cover abortion except in cases involving life endangerment, rape, or incest. But we can do better in St. Petersburg. 
  • Deciding to become a parent or not is one of the most important life decisions that any of us make. During a pandemic the stakes are even higher. No one should be forced to become a parent simply because they can’t afford or were denied abortion care. 
    • More than a year into the pandemic, more than 2.3 million women have been forced out of the workforce, and one in 11 Black women and one in 12 Latina women are currently unemployed. 
    • Women and people of color are the most likely to say they are financially worse off today than they were before the pandemic began. 
    • We can’t stand by while those struggling to make ends meet are left with the impossible choice between paying for basic needs or paying for health services like birth control, prenatal care, or abortion. 
    • Gaps in abortion care and coverage compound the harm caused by low wages for those who already face significant barriers to getting health care, including immigrants, youth, women of color, and transgender and gender-nonconforming people. 

It’s about Economic Justice 

  • We need policies that help put everyone on equal economic footing. 
    • Tipped workers, domestic workers, and farm workers, many of whom are women of color, are excluded from important worker protections and support like unemployment benefits, leaving them at risk for wage theft, sexual harassment, and workplace violence. 
    • Over four in 10 workers nationwide earn less than $15 per hour, and women and people of color are overrepresented in these jobs. 
    • The wage gap falls hardest on women of color. For each dollar earned by a white man, Black women earn 63 cents; Pacific Islander women earn 62 cents; Native American women earn 59 cents; and Latinas earn 54 cents. 
    • Latina immigrants are more likely to experience wage theft and sexual harassment at work, and are often exploited due to immigration status and excluded from unemployment and COVID relief benefits.
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