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.

So how does this work? Covering the cost of your abortion.

After you’ve decided to have an abortion, there’s the matter of paying for it. Volunteer case managers at the DC Abortion Fund are here to guide you through the sometimes challenging process, but we also put together this brief set of questions and answers about covering the cost of your abortion.

How much does an abortion cost?

It varies. The cost of an abortion can depend on a variety of factors, including your health, the clinic, and the stage of your pregnancy. Abortion care can cost anywhere from a few hundred to several thousands of dollars, depending on a variety of factors including the patient’s health, how far along they are in their pregnancy, and which clinic they’re going to.  

Can I use my insurance?

It depends. Health insurance can reduce the cost of an abortion. A few states require insurance plans to provide insurance coverage of abortion while several states deny access to insurance coverage of abortion. The Hyde Amendment has paved the way for federal abortion coverage restrictions for patients on Medicaid, CHIP, and other federally-funded insurance programs–although some states use their own funds to cover abortion for Medicaid enrollees. Your insurance company will be able to tell you whether they cover abortion care. Like any other medical procedure, it’s important to find out which providers and services are included in your plan. If you’ve still got a balance after pulling together your resources, organizations like DCAF, the National Abortion Federation and other abortion funds around the country may be able to help make up the difference between the cost of your procedure and what you can cover.

Will my parents, partner, school or employer find out I had an abortion if I’m on their insurance?

Your confidential health information, including the result of a pregnancy test or an abortion, is protected under the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). However, if a parent or partner is the primary insurance policyholder, they may receive an explanation of benefits (or EOB), a document that may be sent whenever care is provided under a policy that itemizes submitted claims. Some states require or presume that your medical provider will send an EOB. This may be simply a line stating the name of the provider or office and the amount billed, but it may include more information. So while your abortion provider will keep your health information confidential, the explanation of benefits may provide information about the medical services you receive. And if you are insured as a dependent, this EOB may reach your parent or partner if they are the policyholder.  Ask your care provider how services will appear on insurance paperwork, or research the laws and policies of your state.

If you have insurance through your school or job and are the primary policyholder, the EOB will go to you, as the primary policyholder. But some schools or employers refuse to cover reproductive health services, such as contraception or abortion, meaning that you may have to pay the entire cost out of pocket.

If you are a minor, in addition to confidentiality concerns surrounding EOBs, your ability to access abortion or reproductive health care depends on where you live. Different states have different policies when it comes to parental consent, so it is worth looking up the laws in your state. In DC, minors can consent to abortion. In Maryland, minors seeking abortion need to notify their parents, and in Virginia they need both parental notice and parental consent. Organizations like Jane’s Due Process have great information and resources around access to abortion care for minors.

Can I talk to someone about whether this is worth the expense?

We at DCAF affirm that you are the decision maker in your life. While we do not offer options counseling, we do offer financial counseling, should you decide to obtain an abortion. If you are interested in options counseling, we can refer you to an organization that may help.

Looking for a question/answer you didn’t see? Click here for more information about funding an abortion.

Need help? Please call DCAF’s free, confidential helpline at (202) 452-7464 and leave a voicemail for our case managers. Include your name and phone number, how many weeks pregnant you are, the date of your doctor’s appointment, and whether or not it is okay for us to leave you a voicemail. Here’s a link to more resources.

By volunteer Rebecca K.

Angry about the Kavanaugh vote? So are we.

Angry? Emotionally drained? Fired up to fight back? So are we.

The past few weeks were rough for many of us, especially for survivors. But we’re still here, and we’re not going anywhere.

From the very beginning, we knew Brett Kavanaugh was a dangerous pick for the Supreme Court — and not just because he’s signaled his view on access to abortion. He’s made clear that access to birth control, LGBTQ equality, immigrant rights, and voting rights will all be in jeopardy.

Not to mention that he’s been accused of sexual assault and misconduct — an act that should itself disqualify him from ever becoming a Supreme Court justice — by multiple women.

We’ve already seen more people traveling to the DC area for abortion care because of increased restrictions in their state (many are already living in a post-Roe world), and we only expect the demand to grow, especially with Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.

But no matter what happens after he joins the bench, we will always be committed to working together with you — our community of supporters — to make abortion accessible.

Please join us with a recurring gift today to continue to support our work in 2018 and beyond.

What we must do to #StopKavanaugh

It’s been a rough few weeks following the Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

From the very beginning, we knew Brett Kavanaugh was a dangerous pick for the Supreme Court. If he’s confirmed, it’s very likely that Roe v. Wade would be overturned and more than 20 states would quickly ban abortion in most or all circumstances.

He’s made clear that access to birth control, LGBTQ equity, immigrant rights, and voting rights will all be in jeopardy.

And now, he has been accused of sexual assault — an act that should itself disqualify him from ever becoming a Supreme Court justice.

Everyone’s been asking you to call your senator or sign a petition — and you might be thinking, “but I live in DC! What can I do to stop Kavanaugh?”

Here’s three things you can do right now:

  1. Donate to DC Abortion Fund! Abortion funds like ours are going to need your dollars more than ever before if Kavanaugh is confirmed. We know that overturning Roe v. Wade or limiting access to abortion — especially coupled with limiting access to birth control — is not going to end abortion. In fact, we anticipate that the need will only grow.
  2. Call Congress. Yes, even if you’re a DC voter, you can call Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley and tell him why Kavanaugh is a dangerous pick. If you live in Maryland or Virginia, you already know what to do.
  3. Invite a friend to take action. Invite them to call their Senators (especially if they’re in a key state!) and donate to DCAF or a fund in their state.

DCAF supporters and leaders are speaking up in front of the White House, at the steps of the Supreme Court, and on the phone with their senators to #StopKavanaugh.

And they’re donating to DCAF (over $3,000 during our Taco or Beer Challenge alone last week!) because they know our work is more important than ever. Our supporters know that no matter what happens, our patients will count on DCAF and its incredible volunteers to make sure people will still be able to access abortion care. Will you join them?