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.

Repro Rights Book Club

Even in 2017, it can be hard to find positive depictions and arguments for abortion in popular culture. Honest stories of abortion, and its social and economic implications, are important to ending the stigma people face when deciding to terminate a pregnancy. After all, one in three women will have an abortion in their life.

We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite fiction and nonfiction books that portray abortion, the people who have them, and the people who perform them in an honest, unbiased way. Beyond being important to spreading the message of reproductive rights, they are also great reads.

Credit: Amazon

Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights by Katha Pollitt
This book, published in 2014, is the book that first got me interested in abortion rights. Katha Pollitt lays out the arguments for why abortion is necessary, and how it affects gender, health, and economic inequalities in the United States and throughout the world. You will finish the book and think “What can I do?”

 

 

 

Credit: Amazon

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
Lindy West’s memoir is about a lot of things: body positivity, feminism, trolls, women in comedy, weight discrimination. It also tells the story of her abortion. West gives a straightforward account of her decision and her barriers —and the fact that she did not have any regrets. It’s a refreshing take on a storyline that is usually fraught with emotions and indecision. It is also hilarious.

 

 

Credit: Amazon

The Cider House Rules by John Irving
The Cider House Rules, as you may remember from the 1999 movie, is the story of Homer Wells, apprentice of Dr. Wilbur Larch. Wells helps raise unwanted babies in Dr. Larch’s orphanage but steers clear of his other practice—performing illegal abortions. This changes when a young couple seeks out Dr. Larch and brings Wells into a world outside the orphanage. Most people argue that the book is better than the movie, which is all the more reason to check out both and decide for yourself.

 

Credit: Amazon

My Notorious Life by Kate Manning
Axie Muldoon goes from rags to riches in her quest to bring reproductive rights to the people of New York City. My Notorious Life tells the tale of her crusade, inspired by the real life, and infamous, female physician known as the “Wickedest Woman in New York” in the 1860s. This great historical fiction will make you realize how far we’ve come, and how far we still need to go.

 

 

Credit: Amazon

Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice by Dr. Willie Parker
Dr. Parker is known to reproductive justice advocates for being one of the few doctors who performs abortions in Mississippi and Alabama. His memoir is both his personal account of going from Christian fundamentalist to outspoken abortion provider and his case for championing abortion access from a Christian standpoint. He will be at Politics and Prose to discuss his book with Pro author Katha Pollitt on Wednesday, April 19.

 


Have you read any good, abortion-positive books? Tweet us
@DCAbortionFund and let us know!

Caring. Trusted. Unapologetic.

In 2016, the DC Abortion Fund had an amazing year of growth. Our Annual Report showcases our work over the last year to help providing funding for abortion care to patients either living in or traveling to DC, Maryland, or Virginia.

A few key highlights:

  • DCAF worked with 4,452 callers on our funding helpline.
  • DCAF case managers gave an average of $153 per patient.
  • DCAF case managers made 1,343 pledges.

Our previous Annual Reports can be found here.

We could not have done this without the work of our volunteers and the support of our donors. Please consider making a one-time or monthly donation to DCAF here.

We look forward to continued growth and success in 2017!

Why I DCAF

Each year, I look forward to the National Network of Abortion Funds fundraisers—be it bowling, board games, or simply being a financial supporter. The activities are fun, the company is good, and it’s energizing to be around others who also support every person’s right to access abortion. Whenever I’m at a DC Abortion Fund event, I am sure that, together, we can make sure all people have the access they deserve.

Ultimately, I look forward to these fundraisers because I believe that everyone has the basic right to control their lives and their bodies—and the right to abortion is meaningless if you can’t afford it.  

Accessing an abortion can be expensive: the cost of the procedure itself, taking time off of work, and transportation to get there. No one should have fewer rights because they simply can’t afford it. That’s why this matters, and that’s why I DCAF.

I DCAF because I know what it looks like when we don’t have meaningful access to abortion. I’m from a tiny, rural town in California, a town where there was no real sex-ed in the schools and  where the high school had one of the highest pregnancy-per-capita rates in the state. It’s also a town where abortion was deeply stigmatized—no one talked about it, except to shame it. Even if you did know where you could get an abortion, most couldn’t afford it. For many, getting pregnant meant an end of choices.

I DCAF because the freedom to control your own body—to decide if and when to have sex, and with whom; if and when to get pregnant; if and when to carry a pregnancy to term—is essential for equality.

I DCAF because across the country, people are trying to chip away at equality, making it more difficult for people to control our bodies and our choices. Congress, states, counties, and towns—there’s seemingly no end to introduced legislation that would curtail abortion access. And at the same time many of these policymakers are making it harder to access birth control or information about safe sex. Let’s not call these measures anything other than what they are: sexist, racist, classist attacks on the fundamental freedom to control our very bodies.

I DCAF because there is no equality without abortion. Abortion is not only a question of gender equality—access to abortion is a question of economic and racial justice. If abortion is legal but inaccessible, then it’s only really a “right” only for those with money and privilege, and because of the deep racial injustice in our country, that disproportionately affects people of color. Access to abortion is necessary for economic mobility and for ensuring people can make the right choices for themselves.

I DCAF because the question of whether or not to get an abortion is a question for only one person: the pregnant person. No one else should get to decide that—not a room full of male politicians, not a partner, not economic circumstances.

Ultimately, I DCAF because I trust people to make their own choices about their own bodies and lives, and I am committed to making that choice real.

By volunteer Tarah D.

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