The CAIR Project—a group that helps low-income people across the northwest pay for abortions—is suffering a funding crunch after an apparent cyber attack on a national fundraising website they were using.
Every April, abortion funds across the country use a site set up through the National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF) to raise money through bowl-a-thons. For the CAIR Project, which serves Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and Alaska, the annual bowl-a-thon raises about 40 percent of their annual budget.
Last week, the NNAF suffered a cyber attack, which resulted in that image above going out to some of their supporters by email, according to the group. The bowl-a-thon donation site also received "several hundred fake donations apparently intended to cause a 'denial-of-service attack,' which caused the payment card processing site supporting Bowl-a-Thon to go down," the NNAF says in a statement. The attackers also "made a series of fake donations in a manner that caused operational problems for the site." The NNAF has since shut down the fundraising site and is investigating. In the meantime, the shutdown has confused some donors and significantly slowed momentum for the bowl-a-thon fundraising.
What this means for the CAIR Project is that they're significantly behind in fundraising. Trina Stout, the CAIR Project's co-president, says the group was on track to raise $40,000 this year. "After the site got taken down, things ground to a halt for sure," Stout says.
When someone calls the CAIR Project's hotline, volunteers first help them brainstorm other sources of money, like pawning belongings or borrowing from friends, then see if they qualify for programs like Medicaid. (That's especially hard in Idaho, where Medicaid will only cover abortions if a life is in danger or the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.) Last year, the CAIR Project took 1,000 calls and helped fund about 450 of them. The group also organizes transportation and home-stays for rural women coming to Seattle to get abortions.
"If we're not able to raise what we're hoping to, we won't be able to help as many people and that will hurt women and will hurt families," Stout says. "It will mean they have to scrimp even more to pay for the procedure. They'll have to cut back on rent or groceries or necessities for their children. Many of the people who call us are already mothers."
That's terrible news, and presumably exactly what whoever did this hoped would happen. Federal restrictions on public funding for abortion already make it difficult for many low-income women to get abortions. Damage to funds like the CAIR Project will only make it worse.
You can help. The CAIR Project is taking donations on its regular website right here. Some callers need just $25 or $50 to help them pay for their abortion; others need as much as $1,000. The average hotline grant is $200. There will also be plenty of ways to support the CAIR Project at their bowl-a-thon this weekend, even if you aren't part of a bowling team. That happens Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Garage.