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.
By volunteer Maggie G.