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Pro-choice politics: DCAF drives home importance of voting

5544777964_eed2af4182_zDCAF volunteer Maggie G shares with us her experience of how decisions at a state and national level affect DCAF patients. 

I became a DCAF case manager this past July because I wanted to be directly involved in the fight for access to abortion services. Reading countless articles and sending angry tweets was no longer enough for me. Now, when I am answering calls from women through DCAF, I can see the immediate impact that I (and abortion funds like DCAF) am having on people’s lives.

In September, I was accepted into the third annual class of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington’s Developing Leaders Program (PPMW DLP). This experience has been the perfect opportunity for me to learn more about reproductive health and justice, and to get further involved in the movement in new and different ways. There has been some clear intersection between my volunteer work with DCAF and my involvement with PPMW DLP.

I’ve learned that Virginia residents who call DCAF are often bound by restrictive state legislation, such as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws that were enacted in 2011. Requirements of such legislation include that all abortion clinics in the state must comply with hospital-based standards, that mandate dimensions for procedure rooms and corridors, and include requirements for ventilation systems, parking lots, and entrances. These laws make it difficult for clinics to remain open.

In addition, Virginia passed legislation in 2012 that requires a doctor to perform a mandatory ultrasound on a woman before she has an abortion, along with Virginia’s law of the 24-hour waiting period between the ultrasound and the abortion, placing another barrier in front of women. Not to mention that patients often have to pay out of pocket. An ultrasound can cost anywhere between $200 and $1,200, and many insurance companies won’t cover the costs. This makes this type of law both medically unnecessary and an additional financial burden. 

Last month, I was fortunate enough to canvass with PPMW and NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia on behalf of pro-choice politicians running for Virginia state legislator positions. As it was just weeks away from the November election, a group of us went door to door to remind supporters to get out and vote. Knowing that this election could possibly overturn Virginia’s unfair abortion restrictions someday motivated me as I knocked on doors and talked to dozens of strangers about personal voting decisions.

My experience with both organizations shows me how direct service to individuals and advocacy at the local, state, and federal levels are equally important. We need to be active on both sides. While we pressure politicians to respect and protect choice, there are still many people who need our help right now. I am proud to be part of that.

To find out more about volunteering with DCAF, click here.

To learn more about Planned Parenthood for Metropolitan Washington, click here.

By volunteer Maggie G, image by Mortimer62, courtesy Flickr Creative Commons.

Why I DCAF: New volunteer Bee

3769037680_44652f2a55_zThis is another in a series about “Why I DCAF.” Today, new case manager Bee W. shares what inspired her to join DCAF’s ranks.

One of the greatest things you can do is to recognize your privilege. Probably like most young people my age who are the children of the sexual revolution, I have had more than one “pregnancy scare” since I started having sex. However, as a college graduate with a full time job, health insurance, and proximity to more than one reproductive health clinic, the thought of being pregnant wasn’t as life-halting as it can be for a lot of people. The last time I thought I might be pregnant (pre-IUD), I looked into the costs and availability of obtaining an abortion, realized it would be something I could manage, and felt somehow more in control of the situation.

I know, however, not everyone has the same resources that I do. The truth is that the abortion access is qualified by economic eligibility and that pregnant people without the means to travel to or afford services from an abortion provider are forced to remain pregnant or worse, seek other (read: less safe) options. The fact that people have to put their lives in danger because they can’t afford the medical services they need should make you as livid as it makes me.

The average cost of raising a child born in 2013 up until age 18 for a middle-income family in the U.S. is approximately $245,340. The backward logic that a pregnant person without the means to afford an abortion will be able to afford the cost of raising a child reinforces the wage disparity problems we have in the U.S. today. Even beyond the ability to afford to raise a child, the ability to decide if a low-income pregnant person would like to be a parent is removed when economic barriers to abortion are enforced.

I DCAF because we believe that an individual is the decision-maker of their life and should not be denied one’s reproductive rights because of politicized barriers. I wanted to belong to a nation-wide network of people who believed in the same things that I do, and who would work every day to connect people with the resources that they need.

By volunteer Bee W. Image by Stephen Dan, courtesy Flickr Creative Commons.