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Kalamazoo YWCA requests $100,000 from county for Reproductive Health Fund

A range of contraceptive methods: DMPA, vaginal ring, IUD, and pills
Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition

The YWCA in Kalamazoo is seeking county funding to expand access to reproductive health services.

The organization’s Reproductive Health Fund kicked off a few years ago, with nearly $44,000 in support from the county. Since then, the YWCA says it’s been able to offer support to more than 200 people, and most of them qualified as low-income.

YWCA leaders say they recently surveyed residents and found one in three women had trouble accessing health care because of a lack of money or adequate insurance.

And Demetrias Wolverton, interim chief of staff for the Kalamazoo YWCA, said access to reproductive health has become more of an issue since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

“In a post-Dobbs world, we are facing constant attacks on freedom, including the right to abortion care, and gender affirming care,” Wolverton said. “These attacks are rooted in denying people the ability to make their own decisions around health care.”

Wolverton is asking the Kalamazoo County Commission to allocate $100,000 to the Reproductive Health Fund for the upcoming budget year. That money, they said, would help pay for doula services, abortion services and gender affirming care — which could include hormone replacement therapy and other services.

“We are making clear that Kalamazoo County will remain a safe and compassionate place for people to get care that they need without facing any financial barriers,” Wolverton said.

The Kalamazoo YWCA says the Reproductive Health Fund is unique in the nation.

Paula Thornton Greear, President CEO of Planned Parenthood of Michigan, said Kalamazoo’s Reproductive Health Fund is unique. And she wants to see it expanded.

“In so many ways, Michigan is leading the fight to not only restore reproductive rights, but expand access to the full spectrum of reproductive and sexual health care,” Greear said.

Two county commissioners, Jen Strebs and Monteze Morales, have already come out in support of the funding plan, but at a board meeting on Tuesday, at least one resident expressed opposition to the idea of using county funds for abortion services.

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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