“Yes, we can help you.” 

“Yes, we can help you.” 

You are the reason our volunteer case managers get to tell our callers this every day. 

You are the reason our helpline always stays open. 

You are the reason people get to take back control of their own health care decisions, bringing us closer to reproductive justice.

Help us continue to do this by making a tax-deductible gift today. And for a limited time through December 31, all gifts will be matched, up to $10,000, thanks to two anonymous donors!

Since 1995, people have called our fund for one simple yet heartbreaking reason: They cannot afford the full cost of their abortion care. 

This constitutionally guaranteed health care service is out of reach for many people because of political and economic barriers — barriers that disproportionately affect people with lower incomes and people of color. 

This year we’ve provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to patients to cover the gap between what they are able to pay and the full cost of abortion care. We’ve assisted more callers than ever before.

But the role and growth of abortion funds have perhaps never been more critical. As the abortion landscape around the country becomes more restrictive, more patients travel to the relatively progressive states of the D.C. area for their abortion care — and more people turn to DCAF if they need help paying for their abortion, stretching our already-tight resources.

Your support helps our patients overcome these obstacles and access the quality care they deserve. 

We don’t know what the next year will bring. But we know DCAF will always be here — and we hope you’ll be here, too, helping to make our work possible.

Supporting #DC4AbortionAccess

Editor’s Note: Here at DCAF, we believe everyone should have access to a full range of reproductive health care, and that includes abortion. When people have the freedom to make decisions that are best for themselves and their families, our communities thrive. On December 19, we expressed our support for the Strengthening Reproductive Health Protections Amendment Act of 2019 at a hearing with partner organizations. Below is the statement presented by DCAF’s president, Deepika Srivastava.

Chairman Todd, members of the Committee, my name is Dee Srivastava and I am President of the DC Abortion Fund. I have been a DC resident for nearly a decade, and am proud to call Ward 1 my home. Today, I am here to speak out in support of the Strengthening Reproductive Health Protections Amendment Act of 2019. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important issue.

The DC Abortion Fund, or DCAF, is a DC-based 501c(3) that provides about $400,000 annually in financial assistance to people seeking abortion care in the District, Maryland, and Virginia. We also provide referrals to clinics and other resources. In addition to providing financial support and referrals to patients who need abortion care, DCAF also has volunteer-led policy and movement building teams that weigh in on critical legislation like this, to not only bolster our partnerships in the area, but also to advocate for policies that put the needs of our callers first and protect their access to comprehensive reproductive health care. 

The DC Abortion Fund is the only local abortion fund serving residents of the District of Columbia. Last year, we screened about 1300 calls from District residents alone — calls from people who cannot afford their abortion largely due to systemic inequities. We commit to meeting our callers where they are, working with them to close their financial gaps, being an empathetic resource, and doing whatever it is we can to get people to their appointments. We have been serving the District and its residents for nearly 25 years, partnering with the city’s incredible abortion providers at Planned Parenthood, independent clinics, and hospitals. 

As introduced, this legislation would prohibit the District government from interfering with people’s reproductive health decisions and from imposing punitive measures for self-managed abortion, miscarriage, or other pregnancy outcomes. It would also prohibit employment discrimination against employees and healthcare professionals who would participate in abortion or sterilization procedures. In a world where the social and political climate around abortion care gets ever more hostile, proactive legislation like this is one of the most important ways to affirm that DC residents deserve the right to access abortion, and that no matter what happens, we are committed to protecting that right. 

As DC’s local abortion fund, we have seen, firsthand, over and over, what restrictions on DC’s representation and budget autonomy have done to patient access here — including the Dornan Amendment, which renders the District unable to use its own locally raised dollars to cover abortion care for its low-income residents. While this bill won’t be able to do everything that is needed to attain equitable abortion access for all DC residents, it is a key step in the right direction. As we approach the dismantling of abortion access at all levels and branches of government, and live in a world where DC and its residents face a lack of statehood, home rule, and budget autonomy, that step couldn’t come soon enough. 

At their core, restrictions on abortion access — whether they’re outright bans on abortion or harmful regulations that lead to clinic closures or the impeding of funds to cover the cost of abortion care– are a form of oppression rooted in power imbalance and exerting control over the autonomy and well-being of people seeking health care. They disproportionately impact communities of color, exacerbating the already-rampant systemic racism in the health care system. They diminish the autonomy and safety largely of our Black, immigrant, LGBTQ, and low-income residents, and those who sit at these intersections. 

DCAF is testifying in favor of this legislation because we believe that everyone in DC should be able to access abortion, without burdensome and medically unnecessary restrictions. Organizations like DCAF need to exist because there is a health system that is stacked against our callers, forcing them to jump through hoop after hoop when they should have timely, affordable access to health care. We believe that District residents deserve a health care system that is better than the one we have, where one’s acute access to care is shifted based on where they live and what’s in their wallet, due to differing levels of support and investment in things like access to child care, public transportation, and, of course, funding. We believe no one should fear punishment for a pregnancy outcome or for accessing reproductive health care, because we talk to those who would be most impacted by such punitive measures — people with low incomes and people of color, particularly Black and brown communities. We can and must do better as a society than criminalizing and ostracizing people who seek an abortion. Too often we fail people in this regard, and too often anti-abortion advocates legislate away bodily autonomy for people with low incomes, Black and brown people, queer people, and others who live at the margins. 

Abortion funds have to exist because the health system marginalizes abortion care and those who seek it. Often, our opponents justify attacks on abortion access with concepts like safety, compassion, and humanity, but we should be exposing this for what it is — control and manipulation. Safety, compassion, and humanity are important to us, too — but stoking people’s fear with medically inaccurate information or forcibly imposing one’s personal religious beliefs is not how you ensure the safety and wellbeing of all people — protecting and promoting access to compassionate, affirming, person-centered care is. Our commitment to these values is why DCAF supports people seeking abortion from all walks of life. We provide compassionate case management and strive for the transparency, empathy, and resources that our callers deserve as they are navigating a health system that is constantly putting care out of reach. We work with health care providers who have high medical standards, and who value and provide patient-centered health care. 

Our callers, and others seeking abortion care, should have the right to autonomy and control in their health and their lives, and we as a community need to be doing more to affirm that right. We need to trust them to make the best decisions for themselves, and to take these rights seriously. By passing this legislation, we can say firmly that we won’t stand for outdated and nonsense laws and policies that jeopardize the public’s health, legislate away bodily autonomy, and endanger communities. We know that the ability to make autonomous decisions about health care helps communities thrive. We strongly encourage the Council to support the Strengthening Reproductive Health Protections Amendment Act.

Hi! I’m the new DCAF president

It’s been a busy few months at DCAF, but I wanted to take a moment to say hi! If you don’t know me, I am Dee, the incoming president of the DC Abortion Fund.

I’m no stranger to DCAF. I joined DCAF back in 2014, first serving as a case manager and then serving on the board for the past 3 years.

I do this work because I believe that people accessing abortion should be the primary decision makers of their lives, and I refuse to let systemic oppression get in the way of people accessing health care.

Abortion funds like DCAF redistribute resources to build a better world where access isn’t determined by what’s in your wallet or where you live.

The road ahead of us is long. Abortion continues to be marginalized in the health system. People continue to need to travel further and further for care. Those who access care and those who do this work continue to be met with opposition and vitriol. But together, we are a powerful network of volunteers and donors who are here for the people whose care is at risk, and we are not going anywhere.

DCAF’s work truly takes a village, and we appreciate all that you do to make sure our callers receive the care they deserve. This movement needs all of us to keep showing up, day after day, week after week.

If you’re as excited about the future of DCAF as I am — consider chipping in and becoming a monthly donor, or making a special one-time gift!

Reproductive Justice is an Economic Issue

Reproductive justice is a woman-of-color-created framework that defines “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.” Unlike frameworks which center “choice” in discussions of reproductive issues, reproductive justice centers access, interrogating the power structures that oppress marginalized people and further deprive them of that access. Gender, race, and class economics all affect that analysis.

For decades, reproductive issues—abortion access, paid parental leave, birth control coverage—have been sidelined in politics as “women’s issues” and discussed in isolation. This has been done intentionally by those who oppose reproductive justice, and indirectly, by feminist groups who fail to use an intersectional lens. Firstly, the term “women’s issues” is cisnormative: women and people who can get pregnant are a Venn diagram—overlapping, but not the same category. And this framing also minimizes reproductive justice as a “social issue” which is supposedly disconnected from and less important than economic issues.

Because reproductive justice is rooted in the belief that individuals and communities should have the resources and power needed to make their own decisions about their families, bodies, and lives, reproductive justice requires (among other things), economic power. Having or not having a child is one of the largest economic changes in a person’s life. As of 2015, in the United States, the lifetime cost of having one child is nearly a quarter of a million dollars, making it one of the most costly life expenses possible. If you have a child, when you have children, and how many children you have are some of the biggest economic forks in the road of someone’s life. This isn’t necessary, or accidental: our privatized health care system ensures that pre-natal care, birth, and delivery are extremely expensive. And that’s before you get to the costs associated with childcare and education.

But the financial implications of pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood represent isn’t the whole story. Not everyone has the privilege to make those financial and/or reproductive decisions freely—unlike frameworks of “choice, reproductive justice acknowledges that reproduction is deeply linked with issues of class and socioeconomic inequity. Every reproductive issue, from access to birth control to the ability to raise a child safely, is heavily influenced (if not outright determined) by socioeconomic status. The same decision—to seek abortion services, for example—looks completely different to a wealthy person than to someone with much less money. A poor person is less likely to be able to take time off work, afford transportation to a clinic, pay for childcare during the procedure, and have health care coverage — and all of these come into play before figuring out how to pay for the abortion itself. 

Of course, health insurance coverage is defined by economics (and race) as well. In DC, “[n]early 1 in 7 Hispanic residents (13.5%) have no health insurance compared with 1 in 15 (11.8%) Black residents, and 1 in 30 (3.5%) White residents.” As for the little over 35% of DC residents who have public coverage, a majority are women and people of color, and are explicitly barred from abortion coverage by the Hyde amendment. These layers and layers of oppression come together to compound the inequities that reproductive justice intends to eradicate.

Additionally, in many areas in the U.S. where poverty is concentrated, those costs are exacerbated by anti-choice laws, like those that mandate waiting periods (requiring another visit to the clinic) or trans-vaginal ultrasounds (another procedure to pay for). Reproductive issues can’t be separated from economic ones.

As the reproductive justice framework states, reproductive issues and economics are inextricably connected. Socioeconomic status—as intensified by race, gender, and other identity factors—determines one’s ability to make reproductive choices with the freedom and autonomy everyone deserves. And not having the financial freedom to make decisions about birth control, abortion and parenthood in turn affects one’s finances, further trapping people in poverty. The reproductive justice framework sees, and seeks to dismantle, the entire interconnected system of oppression—not discuss one issue as though it exists in isolation.

– by volunteer Kate. This reflects the views of the author.

What You Can Do

Last week was a rough one for many of us. But abortion funds across the country still here, and we’re not going anywhere. In spite of the unconstitutional and unjust bans being rolled out, abortion is still legal in all 50 states. But legal is not accessible. And at DCAF, we work hard every day to help people access the abortion care they need, regardless of what’s in their wallets or where they live. We’re committed to the fights ahead.

You’ve probably seen a lot of articles and Facebook posts floating around about what you can do to help patients in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Ohio, Louisiana, South Carolina, and other states who are considering or have passed restrictive abortion bans.

Here are some ideas:

Donate to a regional fund. Here are some:

Sign up to volunteer with your local fund. Whether that’s DCAF or a fund in another state or region, we’ll need to work together to make sure patients get the funds they need for abortion care.

Donate to your local abortion fund. Better yet, become a monthly donor to support their work year round. Abortion funds in areas where folks can still access this essential health care service will face a higher demand for their services as people travel further distances to get the care they need and deserve. We’ve already seen this trend at DCAF.

Share your abortion story. Viral campaigns like #YouKnowMe on social media, or more organization-specific storytelling efforts like DCAF’s are a great way to destigmatize abortion and highlight what we know: 1 in 4 women have abortions, and not only women need access to abortion services.

Study up on what’s next and deepen your own political commitment. Stay up on the news, learn more about reproductive justice and the fight for abortion rights and access by checking out Radical Reproductive Justice or Handbook for a Post-Roe America.

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 have work to do.

Hope for the Future

2018 was a big year for DCAF. Under a new administration that has already proven itself to be hostile toward reproductive rights, it was also a year that DCAF supporters increased their support of access to abortion care for patients in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia areas.

Your support made a direct impact in meeting the needs of patients.

You can view our FY18 annual report here.

I’m so proud of DCAF’s leadership team and all the work done as part of this incredible organization.

I can’t wait to see what we can do together in 2019 and beyond!

by Jeryl Hayes, DCAF President

Grateful for Your Support

This year, we are grateful. Grateful for generous supporters like you, for our strong community, and for the partners and activists who stand with us on the frontlines for reproductive and social justice.

But there is a lot at stake.

The role and growth of abortion funds have perhaps never been more critical.

As Dr. LeRoy Carhart, a Maryland provider, has said: “Many patients face barriers when accessing care: forced waiting periods, anti-choice legislation, travel expenses, taking time off work, child care, and finances all impact a patient’s ability to receive care when she has chosen abortion. Organizations like the DC Abortion Fund provide support, emotionally and financially…Without funds like DCAF access to abortion would be a right in name alone.”

Support Our Work Today

As we face increasing and frightening state restrictions on abortion access and an uncertain future with the courts, we continue to work every day to make reproductive choice a reality for everyone—regardless of income.

This year we’ve provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to patients to cover the gap between what they are able to pay and the full cost of abortion care. We’ve assisted more callers than ever before.

This holiday season, give the gift of hope. Please help us start 2019 strong with a generous gift today.

Despite the obstacles to come, we remain committed to our mission and our work. DCAF will remain ready to be a resource. And we are only able to do this because of you.

To make an impact throughout the year, please consider making a monthly donation to DCAF! You can make your monthly, or one-time, gift at dcabortionfund.org/donate.

Now, we celebrate!

What a year! We’re still pulling together the final numbers for our annual report, but we already know we’ve shattered previous records. We’ve provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to patients to cover the gap between what they are able to pay and the full cost of their abortion care. We’ve assisted more callers than ever before. And all this in a world with a decidedly anti-choice administration and a multitude of state and national restrictions designed to deny access to abortion care.

So much of this success is thanks to people like you.

Now, we celebrate! Join us next month to toast our incredible community at our annual holiday party on Monday, Dec. 10.

Here are the details:
Who: You and the rest of the DCAF community
What: DCAF’s Holiday Party
When: Monday, Dec. 10 at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Sax Restaurant and Lounge (near Metro Center)

Get your early bird ticket for a suggested donation of $25 today!

If you or your organization are interested in giving at the leadership level for this year’s event, please click here to learn more about sponsorship levels and packages, starting at $100. The funds raised for this event — like all donations to DCAF — will help to continue to make abortion accessible for all.