That’s why an independent Brookline abortion clinic turned to GoFundMe for help


“We want to take care of the women who are part of this small group of people who pay out of pocket.”

Dr Laurent Delli-Bovi pictured at a Brookline abortion clinic. Jonathan Wiggs / Globe Staff

Women’s health services, which has provided abortion and family planning services in Greater Boston for nearly three decades, has become a GoFundMe campaign to help keep its doors open.

It’s a Hail Mary for the Brookline Clinic, which will close in a few months if it doesn’t get enough donor support, according to the campaign. The campaign is still a long way from its goal of $ 250,000, but has seen a slight increase in contributions after recent media attention. By noon Monday, the fundraiser had reached approximately $ 126,000 since it began on December 2.

While a GoFundMe may seem like an unusual step for a for-profit clinic, Dr Laurent Delli-Bovi, the medical director and founder of the clinic, said the clinic has not been profitable since 2006 and has relied in the past on various sources to stay afloat, such as teaching or attending the research.

The biggest chunk was the grant money. A private organization that supports abortion gives grants, both to for-profit institutions and to non-profit organizations. Women’s Health Services applied for a grant that would help them alleviate their debt. The request was denied.

“We realized we had significant debts, which were over $ 300,000, and without the debt relief we just weren’t viable,” Delli-Bovi told in a recent interview. “That was actually one of the reasons we were given as to why we weren’t chosen… that they didn’t think we were financially viable, which in my view is correct. 100 %. But we’re certainly worth supporting because of the population of people that we’re dealing with, which is a very special population of people who sort of fall through the cracks. “

With the help of GoFundMe, the campaign said the clinic staff “will continue to do everything in our power to find a more sustainable solution to secure our future.”

The crux of WHS’s financial problems is low reimbursement rates and making care more affordable for people who pay out of pocket. WHS is the only state provider, other than hospitals, that provides services until the state abortion limit, i.e. up to 24 weeks. According to Delli-Bovi, about 70 percent of WHS customers are uninsured, underinsured or have MassHealth.

Uninsured and underinsured groups fall into this stratum for various reasons. Maybe they have insurance, but it doesn’t cover abortion, or they have insurance that covers abortion, but their employer excludes abortion from covered benefits. Some people may not have insurance at all or have an insurance plan with a $ 10,000 deductible, Delli-Bovi said.

WHS works with set the costs of services. A first trimester abortion between four and 11 weeks costs $ 700, while a 12 to 13 week abortion costs $ 750. About 90 percent of patients undergo surgery in the first trimester, Delli-Bovi said. Second trimester procedures are more expensive due to their more complicated nature; the cost is $ 1,000 to $ 3,300. While that may sound like a lot, it’s a fraction of the cost of going to the hospital, according to Delli-Bovi.

“So if you want to come here and have surgery in the first trimester and have general anesthesia, it’s $ 700,” Delli-Bovi said. “If you want to go to the hospital, it can cost up to $ 6,000. If you have a $ 10,000 deductible, it’s an easy choice: pay $ 700 out of pocket rather than trying to pay $ 6,000 for your deductible and get the same service in a hospital.

As for MassHealth, around 30% of WHS patients take it. But for a first trimester procedure, WHS is being reimbursed $ 375 of the $ 700, according to figures provided on the GoFundMe site.

The goal of the clinic, open since 1992, has “always” been to provide care to people who may fall into one of these categories, she said.

“We want to take care of the women who are part of this little out-of-pocket group of people, especially since, you know, you don’t have to be at poverty level or on MassHealth for 6. $ 000 to be a difficulty to climb. with, ”said Delli-Bovi. “We have always wanted to take care of this group of people and keep our prices low for them other than the hospital option. “

And it’s not just women from Massachusetts who go to WHS. Women travel from other parts of New England and, as abortion laws have become more restrictive across the country, from places like Texas or Louisiana. There were also international patients, women from South America, the Caribbean and Europe.

Since GoFundMe gained traction, Delli-Bovi said the generosity of donors was “heartwarming”. Some of the donations were accompanied by a commentary.

“I still remember going up the rickety wooden fire escape stairs [a] seedy Chicago neighborhood holding the hand of my best friend from college who wanted an abortion before abortions were legal, ”wrote one donor who contributed $ 100. “We were terrified. “

Generosity seemed to boost morale.

“That’s what keeps you going, is knowing that you’re doing something right that is worth fighting for and trying to preserve,” said Delli-Bovi.

About Sharon Joseph

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