After several Republican-led state governments have acted to restrict abortion, women and other people with uteruses have found an unlikely ally in the CEO of a dating site created for transactional relationships.
"If lawmakers will not step in to help these desperate women, then I will," Brandon Wade, founder and CEO of SeekingArrangement, a site with over 10 million members that connects "sugar Babies" to "sugar Daddies or Mommas" to find "mutually beneficial relationships," announced in a video posted to YouTube Tuesday. In the video, Wade said that his girlfriend Zoe and her sister, who are from Gadsden, AL, cried after the Alabama abortion ban, which banned the procedure at any stage of gestation, was passed last month.
Wade reportedly had some learning to do when it comes to understanding why many women, especially those who live in the country's rising number of "abortion deserts," can't just hop on a plane to another state. "I asked Zoe, 'Why can’t someone from Alabama simply travel to a neighboring state where abortion is legal to get one?'" said Wade, whose net worth is reported to be somewhere between $1.4 million to $35 million. "'Many simply cannot afford to do so,' she said. Alabama’s anti-abortion law is designed to hurt the weakest and poorest amongst us."
Wade said he and Zoe are working to launch a charity called Fight Against Poverty, “so that when any state makes the decision to deny women the right to make choices about her body, we can help.” The CEO said the organization will provide funding for women and families “who cannot afford to provide for themselves travel out of their home state to access proper healthcare and to exercise their right to a choice.”
Kimberly De La Cruz, spokesperson for SeekingArrangement, told Refinery29 that the company will pay for and coordinate travel for those who need an abortion, as well as pay for the procedure. They do not have to be members of the website. She also said there will be an application process to decide who will receive funding.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, 378 abortion restrictions were introduced during the first five months of this year alone. More than a dozen states have passed measures banning abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat (more accurately, embryonic pulsing) is detected, and four states have signed these types of bills into law. But the "fetal heartbeat" bans are likely to be challenged in the courts, because they are unconstitutional due to Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Wade isn’t the first notable sugar daddy to put himself on the frontlines of abortion advocacy — Hugh Hefner championed abortion rights, along with his publication Playboy. And while it's charitable of Wade to go to bat for abortion funding, access to abortion care is a right that shouldn't be taken away in the first place. That's why reproductive rights activists and nonprofits have been working hard to raise money for abortion funds and fighting back against anti-abortion laws across the country. Wade’s offer provides another option, though, and — in this political climate — another option can't hurt.