Crowdfunding seeds a range of causes, some of them noble, some of them... not. Kegel exercise devices. Potato salad. Support for the Ferguson police officer who shot an unarmed teenager. These fundraisers often draw controversy, but they can also prompt huge amounts of support -- and, in some cases, they can help people access medical procedures that they desperately need, but otherwise would be unable to afford.
Take, for example, a woman named Bailey, who recently found herself unexpectedly pregnant and facing serious medical complications. Having recently moved across the country, Bailey is "currently unemployed, completely broke, in debt, and in no position to hold down a job due to severe symptoms of a rough, unplanned and unexpected pregnancy," according to a GoFundMe page she created to raise money for an abortion. The procedure is expected cost upwards of $2,250 and, as Bailey explained in a recent interview with Vice, is desperately needed:
According to the page, you’ve been having pregnancy complications, correct?
Do you want to elaborate at all?
It’s just been really, really painful. Like I said, I just got the ultrasound done and haven’t really been to the doctor very much, so I can’t say there’s a specific condition, but I know that it’s worse than any menstrual cramps I’ve ever had. Sometimes the pain is so bad that I can’t get out of bed, and I can’t go to the bathroom. When I cough, it feels like my organs being shredded inside of me. For a second, I was afraid it was ectopic, because that’s supposed to be incredibly painful, but it’s not. I don’t know if there’s any medical terms for what it is, but it’s difficult.
In addition to being high-risk and painful, Bailey's pregnancy is also late-term, adding one more complication to her efforts to access medical care. Only a handful of doctors in the world are trained to perform late-term abortions, compounding the crisis many women find themselves in when seeking out the procedure.
These issues of accessibility are problematic not only for women like Bailey, whose physical health is threatened during pregnancy, but for any woman who finds herself without the savings, insurance, transportation, information or other resources necessary for her to access care. In spite of the negative comments and additional threats to personal safety -- which, Bailey told Vice, she has encountered -- women are forced to take desperate measures. As a matter of health, a basic hope is that crowdfunding is as desperate as a woman would ever have to get -- but still, no woman should have to be so desperate.