Meet Our New President: Jeryl!

We’re excited to welcome Jeryl Hayes as DCAF’s new president. A longtime advocate for social justice and reproductive rights and an experienced health policy lawyer, Jeryl has worked in coalition with many DC-based reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations. She officially starts her term today and we’re ecstatic to have her on board as we continue to grow as an organization.

 

“I am thrilled to serve as the next president of DCAF. I have long admired the impressive abortion support that DCAF provides for the DC, Maryland, and Virginia communities, particularly as an all-volunteer team. It will be a great honor to work with both the DCAF Board and volunteers to help patients access abortion care services. I look forward to engaging in the direct services linked to the policies for which I have spent my professional career advocating.” – Jeryl

You can meet Jeryl this Friday at a volunteer happy hour around City Center. Please email volunteer@dcabortionfund.org for the exact location.

You can reach Jeryl at president@dcabortionfund.org.

Anti-Choicers Won’t Stop Us.

We got some hard news this week.

Two abortion clinics in Maryland — Prince George’s Reproductive Health Services and Germantown Reproductive Health Services — will be closing because the property owners decided to sell the facilities.

Dr. LeRoy Carhart, one of the few abortion providers in the country who provides later abortions, has worked at the Germantown clinic since 2010 and has faced opposition from anti-choice protesters demanding that the clinic close. His clinic was the only place on the East Coast where patients seeking later abortion (after 26 weeks of pregnancy) could access care. The next closest clinics that serve these later cases are in Boulder, Colorado, and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Appointments are already being cancelled. And the cost of an abortion — and the difficulty of traveling the distance to access one — is rising for patients.

Dr. Carhart said he is determined to open his own practice to continue providing care to patients who need it. But in the meantime, the old clinic is under contract to be purchased by an anti-choice group that worked for many years to shut it down.

Painful, to say the least. But anti-choicers won’t stop us.

Last week, we hosted our annual Taco or Beer Challenge fundraiser and raised over $4,000 to help patients access the abortion care they need. And when protesters showed up, our passionate supporters drowned them out and restaurant patrons unrelated to our happy hour donated to show their solidarity with us.

It’s time for us to continue to be loud and proud for abortion access. Chip in what you can today to show that we won’t be stopped. We will continue to help patients access the care they need.

Farewell From Our President

To the DC Abortion Fund Community:

After one and half amazing years serving as the President of the DCAF, I will be stepping down from my role at the end of August. Serving DCAF has truly been one of the most rewarding experiences to me both professionally and personally.

I’m in constant awe of the endless dedication and passion of our volunteers, case managers and donors, the tireless work of the brilliant Board of Directors, and the strength and conviction of our patients. It is because of you all that I am able to move in a different direction knowing that this board and this community will continue to fight, continue to win, and continue to provide abortion unapologetically.

As we move forward through challenging and difficult times in this country, I hope that the DC Abortion Fund continues to affirm that we’re in solidarity with our volunteers, donors, and patients of color, challenges the intricate and intersectional systems that keep our patients from accessing the care that they need, and centers the patients’ lived experiences in our work with the community.

I will always remain an avid supporter (and donor) of the DC Abortion Fund. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating the successes of the board and the years ahead by coming to our Taco or Beer Challenge events on August 21 at 6 p.m. at El Camino (Bloomingdale) and on August 25 at 6 p.m. at Mission (Dupont).  

by Kersha Deibel

We Won’t Stay Silent.

We all deserve to feel safe in our communities.

We are heartbroken by the racist events led by white supremacists last weekend in Charlottesville. We’re standing strong in solidarity with the Blue Ridge Abortion Assistance Fund, clinics, and patients in the area.

As an organization, we work hard each day to help patients access the abortion care they need. And we know this fight for reproductive freedom is intrinsically intersectional — issues of economic justice, religion, the environment, criminal justice, immigrants’ rights, racial discrimination, and a host of other concerns directly affect pregnant people and their decisions.

When white supremacists engage in these public displays of hate and violence, it’s critical that we speak out and make it clear that it won’t be tolerated. Now, more than ever, it is unacceptable to remain silent. We encourage you, as a DC Abortion Fund supporter, to speak up against hate at events in the community, and support our work to make abortion access possible for everyone.

by DCAF’s Board of Directors

Engaging About Social Justice with People Who Disagree with You

This is usually a losing prospect. For most of us, our brains are already filled to the brim with years of news and commentary confirming our points of view — and getting out of that vortex is a near-impossible task. With the intermingling of the personal and the political, we so often talk past each other. This list is not about winning, but about becoming wiser about how to have productive conversations around social justice. 

The first and most critical step is to center yourself in love and mission. We seek to have these conversations with those we disagree with to advance a greater ideal for what our society can be. The ideal is to bring everyone into a new and better sense of self and community. Centering yourself in love and mission has two purposes:  it allows you to take a step back from the stresses of the day to focus on this conversation , and it shows the people you are engaging with that you love them and feel they are important. 

Engaging about social justice issues are different from normal conversation in a critical way: the process requires critical attention. So part of this work pre-engagement is to ask yourself what you’re up for. Evaluate your own energy, and know your limits. An important part of this: try to get a sense of the person you’re speaking with, and their motivations. Is it worth it? Are they also going to bring love to the table? Pick your audience and your timing. Replying to comments on a slanted news site’s comments section is an easy way to quickly drain our loving and mission-oriented energy. Conversely, you may represent a view not held by the rest of your family, but feel a responsibility to bring it up. How much are you willing to risk to meaningfully engage with them on an issue important to you? When and where is the right time to engage with them? 

When you actually begin to engage in conversation, start with the shared values that bring you to this conversation. Start sentences with “We both want…” For example, if you believe strongly in the rights of seeking abortion services, find a value that that may bring them on board — liberty (Roe v. Wade is an established civil right), or family (allowing pregnant people and their partners to dictate the number of children they raise will produce healthier, happy children and families).

Use language that fits your audience. I run into this so often. When discussing an issue, sometimes you want to parrot what you learned in your feminist theory class, or an Angela Davis speech. But sometimes, this language can be overly academic, or misconstrued. Feminism, for example, can be heard as “man-hating” by people raised to believe it is. Even though you disagree, a loving approach may be to talk about “equality,” rather than feminism…at least at the beginning. 

If discussing a population you’re not a part of, take caution. I have a lot of privileges: I’m white, male, cisgender, and middle class. I don’t truly know the daily experience of being anything else and I am not going to pretend I do. When engaging in a conversation, bring in the voices of people of you’re talking about. “I know that when I’ve talked to Sarah about this topic, she has said that…” However, you can both acknowledge your limited perspective, and speak from your experience. As a case manager for the DC Abortion Fund, I can say “While I don’t have the experience of seeking an abortion, I have talked to countless people who have, and have been witness to the immense barriers they face.”

During the conversation, be an active listener. This means NOT thinking about what you’re going to say when another person is talking, but trying your best to hear them, and then form a response. You won’t get anywhere if the person feels they are being ignored. Conversely, when you feel like you’re not being heard, take a breath, and tell the person. 

Lower your expectations. If engaging online, don’t expect to go on Breitbart’s comments board and think you can change everyone’s minds. With politics so wrapped up in people’s identities, an attack on a policy or a stance can feel like an attack on the person. When you feel yourself boiling over, recenter in love and mission. Remind yourself that you don’t have to take the conversation to the bitter end. For me, I reach my limit when I start to feel hateful, when I feel the other person isn’t really listening, or when I’ve said what I need to say, and have given the other person their time, too.

Know that you are still planting a seed. You may not have convinced anyone fully, but you may have been a small part of the person’s road to eventual acceptance. Rest assured that if you centered yourself in love and mission before you started, and spoke from your experiences, the other person will feel that commitment and genuineness. Thank them for listening. 

Post-engagement, take care of yourself. You probably feel exhausted and emotional all at once. Talk to a friend, take a walk, watch TV, read a book, or eat something delicious. You may not have done everything perfectly. That’s okay. Having conversations about social justice with those who disagree is a critical part of activism, but like anything, it’s about building a set of skills, which takes practice and patience and self-love. Live to fight another day.

CHEAT SHEET:

  1. Center and re-center yourself in love and mission.
  2. Ask yourself what you’re up for.
  3. Choose your audience and timing. 
  4. Start a conversation with common values you may share.
  5. Use appropriate language understandable by the other party.
  6. Listen attentively to the other person’s perspective.
  7. Acknowledge your limited viewpoint, but speak from your experience.
  8. Know that you are planting a seed.
  9. Take care of yourself. 

by volunteer Chris H.

Join DCAF for the premiere of Sioux Falls!

The DC Abortion Fund is excited to be part of the world premiere of Sioux Falls by Megan Dominy, a local playwright and actress. The play examines abortion access in a controversial culture war with humor and humanity.

A hopeful mother-to-be, a disaffected student, and an abused wife are all seeking an unusual destination: Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The reason? Sioux Falls is the only clinic in the state which offers abortion services. Connected by a common need but little else, the three women’s paths unexpectedly cross and collide, as they battle personal demons, prophetic mermaids, and bureaucratic red tape. Sioux Falls destroys the simple narrative of who we expect women seeking abortion to be. Instead, it explores the complexity behind this difficult choice and how well government policies can adapt to human intricacy.

The play runs from May 19 through June 11. On Sunday, May 28, a DCAF representative will speak during the discussion after the play—and on June 4, a percentage of proceeds from the play will go directly to DCAF!

Click here to learn more about the play and purchase tickets.

We Came, We Gamed, We Conquered

You may remember our annual Game-a-Thon, our biggest fundraiser of the year. This year, we went in with the goal of raising $70,000.

How did we do? We rocked it.

Thanks to YOU, our DC Abortion Fund supporters, we raised $105,000 and counting — a record for our Game-a-Thon efforts! This includes a generous match of $10,000 from an awesome supporter.

We now have the funding to run our helpline for SIX MONTHS. This is amazing news for patients living or traveling to the DC area, the number of which continues to grow each year. With this funding, we are able to ensure that abortion access is a meaningful reality for those who call us.

We could not have done it without our amazing team of co-chairs, volunteers, fundraisers, and donors. 

We would like to especially thank our sponsors and the awesome businesses that donated prizes:
Maggie Germano
Bossed Up
Breadsoda
DC Brau
I Heart Guts
Meg Levine & Dogstar Printing
Mentor Method
National Organization for Women
Republic Restoratives
Secret Pleasures Boutique
Sixth & I
The Diner
Upshur Street Books
Yoga Heights

Photos by volunteer Maria S.

Happy Tax Day!

Did you know that DC residents are taxed just like everyone else, but are not allowed to spend our local tax dollars without first getting the approval of Congress? Or that ALL federal tax dollars are barred from covering abortions*? Because Congress controls DC’s budget, the District does not have the same autonomy as states, which can decide whether or not they want to use their own locally raised Medicaid funds to help pay for abortions.

That’s ridiculous, right?

This Tax Day, you have an opportunity to help right this wrong.

If you got a refund, donate a portion of it to the DC Abortion Fund! We’re in the midst of our Game-a-Thon fundraiser and your donation has a direct impact. For example, your gift of $36 helps us field a month of calls from patients. $172 funds an average DCAF pledge. And $400 funds a first-trimester abortion in the DC area.

Want to do even more? Consider becoming a Game-a-Thon fundraiser and help us raise money for people in our community. Just gather a few friends to create your team, sign up, and start fundraising. We’ll provide you with tips and tools!

Barring taxpayer-funded abortion coverage puts undue pressure on our patients — and many are already dealing with financial insecurity and limited access to health care.

Do you believe that abortion care should be covered by health insurance? Do you believe that DC should get the same autonomy as states? Then take action today.

Access to abortion care shouldn’t depend on your zip code.