Peace, Joy, and Choice Holiday Party

UPDATE: We’ve been so overwhelmed by support that we’ve reached capacity! If you’re interested in attending our holiday party, please sign up for our wait list and we’ll let you know if spots become available. We’re also continuing to accept donations here

Join us to celebrate our community — and all the work we have done together this year to continue to make choice a reality. We’re excited to toast with you at our annual Peace, Joy, and Choice holiday party on Monday, Dec. 12!

Seven days a week, all year long, DCAF’s volunteer case managers run our free, confidential helpline. In our last fiscal year, we provided over $135,000 in financial support to cover the funding gap between what patients are able to pay and the full cost of their abortion care.

At our annual holiday party, you can learn more about DCAF’s work, meet the volunteers and leaders who keep DCAF running, and join us in a toast to — you guessed it — peace, joy, and choice!

Who: You and other reproductive justice supporters in the D.C. area
What: DCAF’s 12th annual Peace, Joy, and Choice Holiday Party
When: Monday, Dec. 12 at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Lost Society (2001 14th St., NW)

A Very Special Thank You to Our Sponsors!

Catholics for Choice
Planned Parenthood Generation Action
PPFA Health Center Advocacy Program
Jon O’Brien & Colleen Duffy, donated in honor of Renee Bracey Sherman

DCAF Board
Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, D.C.
Washington Area Clinic Defense Task Force
Amanda Bartelme
Suzy Goldenkranz & Seth Samuels
Rebecca & Brandon Gotwalt
Tiffany Reed & Saj Popat
Jonathan Rucks
Natale Zimmer & Michael Battaglia

NARAL Pro-Choice America
NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland
NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia
National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
National Organization for Women – DC Chapter
National Women’s Law Center
Plan Bees Alumni
Cordy Galligan
Danielle Geong & Adam Pimentel
Catherine Heffernan Gibson
Allison Mitchell & Kris Gill
Jill Morrison
Chitra Panjabi & Pete David
Suzanne Swink & Colleen Crinion
Marya Torrez & Michael Farmer
Joy Levin Welan

Advocates for Youth
Association of Reproductive Health Professionals
Code for DCAF
Women’s Information Network (WIN)
Chioke Barkari
Laura Blyler
Katie Breslin
Michelle Campbell
Emily Crofoot & Jake Spiegel
Claire S. Gould
Caitlin Gullickson
Sara Imershein, MD MPH
Jessi Leigh Swenson
Val Vilott

Take Action for Reproductive Justice — Fund Abortions!

Take action for reproductive justice on Nov. 29 and help us fund abortions for patients in the DC area!

Nov. 29 is Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Along with other incredible nonprofits in DC and around the world, we are participating — and we hope you will too!

Seven days a week, all year long, DCAF’s volunteer case managers run our free, confidential helpline. In our last fiscal year, we provided over $135,000 in financial support to cover the funding gap between what patients are able to pay and the full cost of their abortion care. We worked with over 3,408 callers on our funding helpline — and our case managers gave an average grant of $170 per patient. To date, we have never turned away a single person who was eligible for DCAF funding.

We hope you consider making a gift to DCAF on Giving Tuesday to ensure people in the DC area — regardless of what’s in their pockets — can access abortion care.

To learn more about Giving Tuesday or to give now, click here.

Moving Forward. Together.

Editor’s Note:

This week has been a rough one for many of us. But we’re still here, and we’re not going anywhere.

As an organization, we work hard every day to help patients access the abortion care they need. And we know this fight for reproductive freedom is intrinsically intersectional — we’re working alongside LGBT folks, those living in poverty, immigrants, Black and Latino communities, people of different faiths, and those with disabilities to ensure equity for all.

Perhaps that fight has never been more important.

Like many of you, we are furious, we are sad, and we are stunned. But no matter how you’re feeling right now, please know that we remain committed to working together with you — our community of supporters — to continue to make abortion access possible and support all of our community members in their ongoing struggle to live free from oppression.

Let’s turn our rage into resilience.

I imagined Nov. 9, 2016, a million times. I thought I would be skipping to work, high-fiving strangers, and crying. Turns out I only got the crying part right.

Women, people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and countless other groups are reeling. What does this mean for us? And what do we do now? I can answer that last one – right now, we can take care of ourselves. Self-care is incredibly important for our mental and physical health, our relationships with others, and our ability to just get through the day.

Sometimes you want to take action and feel like you are making strides to fix injustice, and sometimes you just want to make yourself feel better for an hour. Both are equally important and necessary. Below are some simple ways to take care of yourself as you deal with the emotional and physical toll the election results may have had on you.

Donate your time/money to a cause that will be under attack for the next four years:
DC Abortion Fund (of course)
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
The Trevor Project
Muslim Public Affairs Council
National Council of La Raza
Center for Reproductive Rights
NARAL Pro-Choice America
National Immigration Law Center
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)
American United for Separation of Church and State
Media Matters for America

Donate your time/money to organizations that help women prepare for and be elected to office:
Emerge America
Emily’s List
Running Start
She Should Run

Treat yo’self:
Spend 20 minutes with a dog. Don’t have a dog? You can come hug mine. He has a great smile.

Buy yourself a bouquet of flowers. Why not? There is nothing more frivolous and pleasant and you deserve it.

Hug a loved one. Maybe then need it, maybe you need it. It will help you both either way.

Take a walk. Go sit in a park and be outside. If you’re chilly, treat yourself to a ridiculously flavored latte to keep your hands warm.

Immerse yourself in a mindless, enjoyable, fluffy book. There are plenty of amazing indie bookstores in DC. If you tell the booksellers you want something to distract yourself for a bit, they will surely understand and have great recommendations.

Write how you are feeling. It doesn’t need to be anything for anyone but you. If you feel scared, write “I feel scared.” If you have a long, complex emotions that you don’t know how to grapple with, writing them down can help.

Order takeout and binge watch something ridiculous in your pajamas.

Go to a yoga class. There are plenty of free and by-donation classes in the city.

Call a friend. Have a meaningful or light conversation. Connecting with someone else can help you feel less alone.

We do not know what the future holds, but we do know this: We need to take care of ourselves, and we need to take care of each other. We need to be strong. We have work to do.

By volunteer Carrie E.

Crosspost: Supporting New Leaders in the Movement

megagraphicDCAF is an all-volunteer organization, and sometimes our day jobs overlap with our work in reproductive health and justice. This week, volunteer manager Lindsey is at the American Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting and Expo in Denver. Here’s a post she wrote for APHA’s Annual Meeting blog on Public Health Newswire, about building support systems to help the people most affected by issues of access to health care become leaders in the movement.

APHA’s Women’s Caucus has a long history of sponsoring Annual Meeting sessions on raising women’s voices (often with the organization Raising Women’s Voices). This year, the two groups highlighted the importance of lifting the voices of marginalized people — women, people of color, LGBTQ* people — by giving them the support they need to succeed in grassroots organizations.

Byllye Y. Avery, founder of the Avery Institute for Social Change and the Black Women’s Health Imperative as well as co-founder of Raising Women’s Voices, noted that in the reproductive justice movement (which, as defined by SisterSong, intersects with other justice movements, including racial and immigration justice) there has been a push to lift up those who are disproportionately affected by discriminatory policies that relate to health and wellness. But those with the passion and the will to raise awareness, start nonprofit organizations and work to effect change often don’t have the business know-how to keep the wheels turning, she said.

Read the full post at Public Health Newswire.

Why I DCAF: Hyde Edition

affordableabortionThis week marks the 40th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, which bars Medicaid recipients from using their benefits to pay for abortion care in many states. Our volunteers are sharing the stories of why our work is vital in the face of these restrictions. Today, case manager Lauren W. shares what she sees on our helpline.

Abortions are expensive. Really, really expensive — in my time as a DC Abortion Fund volunteer, I have worked with patients whose procedures will cost anywhere from $300 to $18,000. Even the lowest-cost procedures at the earliest stages of pregnancy can pose an insurmountable burden for people with no incomes, people with other high-cost medical needs, and people who live paycheck-to-paycheck.

Now, most medical care is expensive. That’s why most people have or try to have health insurance, which is supposed to help cover the high cost of care so that people can stay healthy. For people who can’t afford health insurance, we have Medicaid, which has serious flaws but still provides an important safety net for people in difficult financial situations. Medicaid should be health insurance that people can rely on for their basic medical needs, including abortions. Thanks to Henry Hyde and other anti-choice politicians, however, they can’t.

Rep. Hyde created what it is now known as the Hyde Amendment, an unjust policy that has been in place for the past 40 years. This federal budget rider, and others like it, prevents Medicaid, CHIP, and Medicare enrollees; federal employees and their families; Peace Corps volunteers; members of the military and their families; users of the Indian Health Service; DC residents; and people held in federal jails, prisons, and immigration detention facilities from using their health insurance for abortion care.

When I learned about these unjust policies, I was angry. I wanted to stand in solidarity with people in the DC area, the community I love and call home, who could get the abortion care they needed if only their health insurance would cover it. That’s why I became a case manager for the DC Abortion Fund.

When I take my helpline shifts, I hear from my patients that they are frustrated and worried that they won’t be able to pull together the money they need to cover their abortion while still providing for their children, their family members, and their own basic needs, like food and housing. Recently, I worked with a patient who apologized to me for spending $15 on food for her children, and was short of the goal she had set for herself. She isn’t the one who should be apologizing — the members of Congress who support the Hyde Amendment every year are the ones in the wrong. If the Hyde Amendment weren’t in play, this mother could get the care she needed and provide adequate food for her young children. Instead, she’s forced to scrimp on food and spend many hours on the phone working to get the money together to pay for her abortion so she can end a pregnancy that isn’t right for her or her family.

No one should ever be forced to choose between the medical care they need and feeding their kids. That’s why I am a proud DCAF volunteer and why I support an end to the Hyde Amendment.

By volunteer Lauren W. Image via Repeal Hyde Art Project.

How Bans Affect Patients with Disabilities

disability_justice_repealhydeThis week marks the 40th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, which bars Medicaid recipients from using their benefits to pay for abortion care in many states. Our volunteers are sharing the stories of why our work is vital in the face of these restrictions. Today, case manager Meredith N. talks about how laws restricting abortion access disproportionately affect people with disabilities.

It’s that time of year where we wish the Hyde Amendment a happy unbirthday and continue to fight the good fight to end the ban(s) on abortion coverage. However, it is discouraging to see so many reproductive justice activists neglect to mention that people with disabilities are disproportionately impacted by the Hyde Amendment as well. The reality is that people with disabilities are more likely to be poor as well as rely on state insurance programs such as Medicaid and Medicare to meet our health care needs. I currently live in Maryland which both expanded Medicaid and is one of the 15 states where Medicaid covers abortion care.  Unfortunately, the lack of transparency surrounding how to access this benefit means that few are aware it does not apply to the Aged, Blind or Disabled Medicaid that SSI beneficiaries receive (perhaps because there is the false assumption we do not need it). In turn, repealing Hyde is a disability justice issue as well. At the same time, a world without Hyde means little as long as our society continues to look upon disabled sexuality with fear and disgust. A world with reproductive justice would affirm the diversity of body/minds in the world by recognizing that we, too, deserve full spectrum reproductive health care.

As a result, I DCAF because disabled people need abortion access, too. Neglecting to consider this hurts multiply marginalized disabled people the most. I DCAF because the seemingly insurmountable financial barriers to an abortion are compounded when you are turned away from clinics because you are considered a high risk patient, your accessibility needs cannot be met, or you must go without lifesaving medication in order to come up with gas money. I DCAF because too many people with disabilities remain isolated by an ableist world and I want to be a lifeline whom anyone facing an unplanned pregnancy can call when they have no one else to turn to. I DCAF because everyone deserves access to safe, accessible abortion care regardless of how much cash they have, regardless of whether or not society believes they “should be” having sex or not, regardless of whether or not they are “productive” enough, and whether or not their necessary accommodations are “reasonable” enough.

Nonetheless, abortion funds and other reproductive justice groups shouldn’t wait until Hyde is repealed to commit to this anti-ableism work! As someone who has funded abortions both locally and nationally, it is all too apparent that abortion funds are working with many disabled callers — regardless of whether or not these callers identify as such — but are poorly equipped to recognize our needs, much less accommodate them. I encourage you to consider how you can better incorporate dis/ability into your intersectional frameworks: whether that’s eliminating ableist language such as “crazy” or “lame” from your fund’s vocabulary or taking more extensive steps of disability solidarity.

By volunteer Meredith N. Image by Repeal Hyde Art Project.

How Hyde Affects our Patients

Via Repeal Hyde Art ProjectThis week marks the 40th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, which bars Medicaid recipients from using their benefits to pay for abortion care in many states. Our volunteers are sharing the stories of why our work is vital in the face of these restrictions. Today, case manager Olivia C. shares what she sees on the help line.

When I ask a DC Abortion Fund patient if they have health insurance, I hold my breath. If the patient tells me they have Medicaid, I should be relieved. More often than not, however, I have to talk to my patients about how a program that’s supposed to provide healthcare won’t in this instance. Because of the Hyde Amendment, a sweeping federal restriction on funding for abortion, most of our patients on Medicaid can’t use it to pay for their abortion, leaving them to scramble for funds.

For almost 40 years, Hyde has made true reproductive choice a theory rather than a reality. Hyde bans the use of federal money for abortion except in the most limited circumstances: life endangerment, rape, and incest. A handful of states — 15, to be exact —  use their own funds to provide abortion to people enrolled in Medicaid, but 33 states don’t, and the District of Columbia can’tleaving 60 percent of women enrolled in Medicaid without abortion coverage. The patchwork of funding make abortion access a privilege based not just on income, but on ZIP code.

We see this play out every day at the DC Abortion Fund. Our Medicaid-enrolled patients in Maryland have abortion coverage up to 22 weeks of pregnancy, at least if they’re on the state’s primary Medicaid program (Maryland’s Children’s Health Insurance Program and family planning program don’t offer abortion coverage). Patients with Medicaid calling us from the District of Columbia, Virginia, and other states aren’t as lucky, nor are our patients who are federal employees or military service members or veterans who have insurance provided by the federal government.

Hyde hits the people who are most in need. Poor and low-income women are the most likely to experience an unplanned pregnancy and want an abortion. Because of social and economic inequality linked to racism and discrimination, Hyde disproportionately affects women of color (30 percent of black women and 24 percent of Hispanic women are enrolled in Medicaid), youth, immigrants, and transgender or gender non-conforming individuals, and people with disabilities. The result is that a program intended to promote equality in health care access perpetuates inequality instead.

At the DC Abortion Fund, we work with patients who experience this inequality first-hand. The average cost of an abortion can be more than one-third of a patient’s monthly income, and even more as a patient gets further into pregnancy. Without much money to spare, our patients may find themselves needing to divert funds from food, rent, and utilities to pay for their abortion. They might find themselves in a vicious cycle of fundraising, being unable to hit their target, and having to reschedule for a later, more costly appointment. While the DC Abortion Fund and our partners often can meet the need of our patients, there are other people for whom abortion is still financially out of reach, forcing them to carry an often unplanned, and often unwanted, pregnancy to term.

The DC Abortion Fund and our fellow funds exist to help patients fill the gap left by Hyde, but we can’t do it without our volunteers and donors. Moreover, we can’t meet the needs of every patient nationwide affected by abortion coverage restrictions. We need abortion coverage that doesn’t discriminate on wealth and address.

It’s high time to repeal Hyde. Advocates across the country are banding together to call on Congress and our next president to end restrictions on abortion funding. Join the DC Abortion Fund and send us a selfie telling us why you stand up against Hyde. Write to your Congressperson asking them to support the EACH Woman Act, which mandates abortion coverage in insurance. And on Sept. 30, the 40th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, be bold and shout your support for abortion access. It’s time for us to restore decision making to the people who need abortion and make choice a reality.

By volunteer Olivia C. Image by Repeal Hyde Art Project.


repealhydeThis week marks the 40th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, which bars Medicaid recipients from using their benefits to pay for abortion care in many states, including DC. Our volunteers are sharing the stories of why our work is vital in the face of these restrictions. Today, case manager Harum H. shares what she sees on the help line.

When you volunteer as a case manager with the DC Abortion Fund, you get the privilege of having a pretty good look at how the Hyde Amendment strips so many people of their rights to dignified health care.

The people who call DCAF for help paying for their abortion often do so because they have exhausted their other options. They’ve asked for help from their friends, they’ve asked their parents, they’ve pawned their microwaves, they’re picking up extra shifts at work. They fundraise and fundraise and fundraise, but because abortion can cost between $300 and $950 even in the first trimester, sometimes what they’ve fundraised is just not enough. And sometimes they can’t ask anyone because their friends and family are anti-choice. Sometimes they can’t ask anyone because they’re in an abusive relationship. Sometimes they just don’t want to tell anyone they know.

So they call DCAF, and we talk to them on the phone, and they tell us private information about their lives and pregnancies so we can determine how we can help them. Sometimes the abortion costs so much (the price of care goes up exponentially after the first trimester, easily reaching five figures as the pregnancy progresses into the second and third trimester) that DCAF and a combination of other funds can’t help cover the entire funding gap, and the client has to go back to the drawing board and fundraise some more. Ask more people. Pawn more things. Buy a little less food for their families.

Here’s the thing: So many of these people who seek abortion care don’t have to go through all that. If the Hyde Amendment weren’t in place, Medicaid would be able to cover their abortion. Poor people, who are also overwhelmingly people of color, who have never been allowed a seat on the table congressional debates concerning their lives, who should be able to make their own dignified decisions about their health care, are the collateral in the ugly game anti-choice lawmakers play. As U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde himself told his colleagues during a congressional debate in 1977, “I certainly would like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion, a rich woman, a middle-class woman, or a poor woman. Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the…Medicaid bill.”

Forty years of having the Hyde Amendment in place is 40 years too long. This shameful amendment needs to end now.

By volunteer Harum H. Image courtesy Repeal Hyde Art Project.

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