This is what it’s come to in this country since the fall of Roe.
I think it’s outrageous.
All Steven knew was what time and where. A part-time pilot from the Chicago area, he was picking up a total stranger in his single-engine plane, a passenger who needed to fly more than a thousand miles, across state lines, from the midwest to the east coast.
“Within 15, 20 minutes of arriving and meeting the person, we were in the plane and I got the engine fired up, ready to go,” he said.
“It felt weighty,” he added. “Every time I fly, even by myself, there’s sort of this heightened level of alertness … This flight was even one more notch above that because this is someone who I don’t know, they don’t know me..”
The passenger was seeking reproductive health services and needed to travel to a state where they could access them. Steven is just one of hundreds of pilots across the US, who have been volunteering the use of their small planes to fly people seeking abortions and other services from states that have outlawed it to states that haven’t.
The effort to connect volunteer pilots with patients is led by Elevated Access, a non-profit organization based out of Illinois. It was founded in April in response to a growing number of women being forced to embark on expensive and time-consuming journeys in attempts to obtain abortions.
The flying costs are covered by the volunteer pilots, and the trips are free for passengers. Pilots pay for fuel, and those who do not own their own aircraft pay for rental fees.
“This is their weekend pastime, if you will,” Fiona says. “Fuel alone for one of our flights is several hundred dollars, so every time a pilot does a flight, several hundred dollars of gas money is coming out of their pocket.”
To Steven, there is a strange irony in his work with Elevated Access.
“We constantly read, as general aviation pilots, about how lucky we are to have the flying freedoms that we have in the US compared to other countries, with some very minor exceptions,” he says of being a pilot in America. “I could basically hop in my plane anytime I want, fly anywhere I want. I don’t have to talk to a single air traffic controller. I could file a flight plan and I don’t have to check in with some government entity.
“I think as pilots, we’re very proud of the freedom we have and so it seems appropriate for me to use the freedom I have to help out people whose much more fundamental freedoms – [such as] rights to medical care or decisions about how they want to control their own body – are being jeopardized right now.”
This is life saving medical care that these women are getting. This is what is happening to women in Red States, and what the GOP wants to happen to women EVERYWHERE.