Cobalt, the Colorado nonprofit that helps patients access abortion care, continues to report an increased demand for abortion care and support in Colorado following the 2022 Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade.

“I think that sometimes there is this idea that the Dobbs decision and subsequent bans due to trigger bans created an increase in volume [of abortion patients], and now maybe that volume has kind of decreased or kind of stabilized — that is not the case,” said Melisa Hidalgo-Cuellar, the director of the Cobalt Abortion Fund, during a Zoom presentation Thursday.  “[What] we’re seeing out of Cobalt Abortion Fund is that the volumes continue to increase every single month, and that’s really reflected between the 2022 numbers and the 2023 numbers. We’re meeting here today to show the quarter one numbers of 2024. They continue to show these increases.”

Cobalt Abortion Fund’s annual spending has increased nearly sixfold, from $212,565 in 2021 to $1.25 million in 2023. So far in 2024, Cobalt has spent over $500,000. Cobalt not only covers costs for abortion procedures, but also provides financial aid, or practical support, for travel, lodging, or other needs when seeking abortion care.

“We’re seeing practical support numbers increase post-SB8 [Texas’ six-week abortion ban] and post-Dobbs as abortion seekers are forced to travel outside of their home state to access abortion care,” said Hidalgo-Cuellar.

Cobalt spent $6,054 on practical support in 2021, $221,881 in 2022, $539,516 in 2023, and $285,341 so far in 2024. According to data provided by Cobalt, 85% of clients seeking practical support funds in 2024 were Texas residents

“As folks are forced to travel exceedingly longer distances, their cases become more complex, and we are having to spend more money on a single case in order to help that person access abortion care,” said Hidalgo-Cuellar. “Also what we’re seeing is flight prices are higher, hotel prices are higher. Uber and Lyft, rideshare, meals. Everything is going up in price, and we’re really seeing this reflected in those flights. When folks are forced to travel, forced to take flights, to access this essential health care, you’re going to see those numbers really increase.”

As Republican-led states continue to restrict abortion access, Cobalt continues to see an increased demand for services. “The Florida abortion ban went into effect at the beginning of May, and we are already starting to feel that impact at Cobalt Abortion Fund,” said Hidalgo-Cuellar. “We are already receiving requests from folks out of Florida, who are trying to access abortion care in a state where it is legal to do so.”

For Colorado residents, those costs are not as much of a concern. “Practical support for Colorado abortion seekers has trended down over the past year to two years,” said Hidalgo-Cuellar. “Now, the reason why we think this happened is because there has been such an important move towards increasing access to telehealth medication abortion.”

The Supreme Court is expected to rule this summer on the FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine case, which is challenging the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone, one of the two drugs used in medication abortions. Hidalgo-Cuellar says Cobalt is hopeful about the upcoming ruling.

“We think that we will get good news out of this,” she said. “However, we are prepared and we are in conversations with our providers, to make sure that they are prepared if there is not good news out of this case. There are other protocols in place so that folks can still access medication abortion if we were to get bad news out of this case. Abortion seekers will still have options for medication abortion if we get bad news out of this case.”

Cobalt President Karen Middleton notes that Cobalt is focused on continuing to meet the needs of abortion patients in the current political climate. “We are right now really revisiting with key supporters and identifying new prospective supporters that really want to help us meet these needs,” she said. “Our overall budget last year was over $4.2 million. We’re dedicated to increasing our budget this year in order to reach these numbers.”