We Must Continue to Fight Together for Equitable Abortion Access

Editor’s Note: Catholics for Choice is a sponsor for our holiday party. Thank you to the entire Catholics for Choice team for your work and your support. All answers below are attributed to Glenn Northern, Director of the Domestic Program at Catholics for Choice.

I’ve spent a decades-long career protecting access to reproductive health—and I know firsthand that although abortion is a fundamental right, access to abortion care is far from equal. I recall my early days when I was a hotline operator at the National Abortion Federation (NAF) when they deployed only two operators for the whole country. We received many calls from women who were not able to pull together the money to fund their abortions and it was heartbreaking. Very few places existed to help at that time.

DCAF has rewritten the script for many women enabling them to get the care they need and Catholics for Choice supports that work of DCAF because we believe that every woman should be able follow her conscience with regard to very consequential decisions around pregnancy. No one should have to choose between whether or not her family eats or whether she can get an abortion.

At the time, NAF resided in the very same building as Catholics for Choice where I now go to work each morning to safeguard those rights. At Catholics for Choice I am privileged to represent and amplify the voices of prochoice Catholics. We lift up the lived expression of Catholicism as everyday Catholics around the world see it. Catholics for Choice trusts women and men to make their own moral decisions on abortion and motherhood, important moral matters including reproductive health. For me it’s a dream living out two crucial parts of my identity as a feminist and Catholic. I could not be more proud of the work we do to ensure that every woman is able to follow her conscience and make whatever decisions about her pregnancy are right for her.

That is why we launched an Abortion in Good Faith pledge to lift up the voices of others, like me, who believe social justice means ensuring everyone can access the reproductive care they need.

Most recently we saw how Oregon reaffirmed its commitment as a model of progress by defeating measure 106 and maintaining protections so that all Oregonians, including those on Medicaid insurance, can get abortion care. Catholics for Choice joined the No Cuts to Care Campaign to defeat the ballot. We helped organize Catholics and give them the space to talk about why their values of compassion and social justice compelled them to support equitable and comprehensive reproductive care for all.

Together with our partners, we wrote editorials, ran English and Spanish language ads in local papers and radio stations, and spoke up on social media to lift up these voices and stop attacks to strip care from those with the least resources to fight back. We reached out to immigrant Catholics who were going to be disproportionately impacted by these cuts to care.

On Tuesday, November 6, 2018 we won. The Coalition handily defeated Ballot Measure 106. In fact support for equitable abortion access received more total votes than any statewide candidate or initiative on the ballot in Oregon. 

Growing up Catholic in NY I always knew I wanted to help people, that I was called to a life of social justice. This latest victory exemplifies the reasons that drove me to this work in the first place, and sustain me now.

We were proud to be a part of that campaign. We are always proud to stand up for the rights and conscience-based decisions of women.

That is why we are proud to stand with and support DCAF and its work. We are both grounded in the critical work of lifting up the conscience based decisions women make about pregnancy. Freedom itself is inextricably linked to the ability to exercise one’s conscience and determine one’s future including one’s reproductive future. That is why we remain as committed as ever and count our blessings in partners like DCAF who help put the justice and choice back into prochoice for the lives they touch.

Partners in Choice: Catholics for Choice

Editor’s Note: Catholics for Choice is a sponsor for our Peace, Joy, and Choice holiday party. Thank you to the entire Catholics for Choice team for your work and your support. All answers below are attributed to Glenn Northern, Director of the Domestic Program at Catholics for Choice.

What is the mission of Catholics for Choice?

As the new Director of the Domestic Program at Catholics for Choice working here has been a dream come true. I have spent my adult professional life working in the field of reproductive health rights and justice, and I am incredibly proud to work towards helping make sure that every woman is able to exercise her conscience.

We do such important work at the nexus of religion and reproductive health because Catholics for Choice represents the vast majority of Catholics around the world who disagree with our church’s hierarchy on abortion, contraception, religious liberty and the role of religion in the public sphere. We lift up the lived expression of Catholicism as everyday Catholics around the world see it. Catholics for Choice trusts women and men to make their own moral decisions on important moral matters including reproductive health. We do so because the Catholic social justice tradition teaches us that each individual should have the right and the means to follow their conscience in moral decision making, and never denied the care they need based on how much money is in their pocket or because another’s beliefs impede it.

Why do you support the DC Abortion Fund?

Personally, I have given money to DCAF because it is important to me to make sure that every woman has the ability to make the choices that are best for her. It is wrong that someone should not be able to afford the healthcare that they need. It is wrong that someone should be denied an abortion because they cannot afford it. I, like my colleagues at Catholics for Choice, want to do my part to ensure that all women can exercise their right to choose.

From an organizational standpoint, Catholics for Choice is a proud sponsor of DCAF and has been from the beginning because DCAF instills the social justice values we at Catholics for Choice hold dear. Our staff has always been inspired by DCAF because they provide support, hope and resources for those who need an abortion. Because of DCAF, reproductive healthcare in the District is more equitable, and this is a goal that I think we can all get behind.

What did CFC do in 2017 of which you are most proud?

It’s so funny that you ask that! Just yesterday, I was talking with a partner about how even though I have been in reproductive rights for so long, one of our recent campaigns still managed to totally floor me. A lot of my drive for reproductive rights comes from working towards justice and dignity for all, and I think that our recent Abortion in Good Faith campaign was a particularly moving expression of both of these values that I hold close to my heart.

Abortion in Good Faith showcases the voices of Catholics from various walks of life who believe that all women deserve the right to equitable reproductive healthcare, including abortion access—no matter how much money they have, where they live or what they believe. This campaign loudly and unapologetically shows how public funding for abortion is a Catholic social justice value and why Catholics across the United States stand with women and their right to decide. We were able to feature everyday Catholics: a feisty but gentle grandmother, an earnest and thoughtful graduate student, a determined mother and former legislator and others, all of whom articulate why they, as Catholics, support public funding for abortion access.

These were all remarkable individuals, and I am proud to play a part in lifting their voices. Here are some examples to show you just why this campaign moved me so much.


More tangibly, the campaign played a role in the Illinois Governor signing HB 40 into law, lifting the state funding restrictions for abortion under Medicaid and the state employee’s health insurance program. It’s not every day that you get to see the direct, meaningful impact of your work, so this was a special moment for us.

Bringing it back to DCAF, Catholic social justice means we take care of our neighbors, especially those with fewer resources than we might have. This is the goal of ours through Abortion in Good Faith, and DCAF works every day to make that a reality for each and every woman who seeks their help. I am really proud to work for an organization that supports DCAF.

What are your reproductive rights resolutions for 2018?

My resolution is to continue fighting back—to do what seems difficult and prevail. This past year has been particularly difficult, but it’s said that it is always darkest in the middle of a tunnel, so I know that the light is on its way.

Personally, I am committing to use my heart, mind, skills and energy to make real a world where all people are able to exercise their conscience without coercion, stigma or financial barriers hindering their choice of what is best for them.

As a team, Catholics for Choice sees 2018 as an opportunity to win big for women’s autonomy. We will continue to offer thought leadership in Conscience magazine, expand our outreach both at home and abroad and serve as a voice for the majority of Catholics who are, in fact, prochoice. We’re ready to keep fighting.

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.

Dry Land performance with DCAF

Credit: Forum Theatre

We are proud to be a partner of Forum Theatre’s #NastyWomenRep which started on March 16. What Every Girl Should Know by Monica Byrne and Dry Land by Ruby Rae Spiegel examine the devastating consequences when women are denied their physical and emotional autonomy.

We need this conversation now more than ever.

As part of our partnership, Forum is donating 50% of the proceeds from the box office on Thursday, March 30 to DC Abortion Fund! We hope you’ll come out to see the show and raise money for DCAF.

Use discount code DCAF when you purchase tickets to the March 30, 8 p.m. performance of Dry Land for 30% off the normal ticket price. There will also be a special post-show discussion with DCAF volunteers following the performance.

Can’t make it on March 30? You can still use discount code DCAF to purchase tickets for every other performance of Dry Land and What Every Girl Should Know. After the April 7 performance, DCAF representatives will be joining a post-show panel on policy issues raised in the plays.

Moving Forward. Together.

Editor’s Note:

This week has been a rough one for many of us. But we’re still here, and we’re not going anywhere.

As an organization, we work hard every day to help patients access the abortion care they need. And we know this fight for reproductive freedom is intrinsically intersectional — we’re working alongside LGBT folks, those living in poverty, immigrants, Black and Latino communities, people of different faiths, and those with disabilities to ensure equity for all.

Perhaps that fight has never been more important.

Like many of you, we are furious, we are sad, and we are stunned. But no matter how you’re feeling right now, please know that we remain committed to working together with you — our community of supporters — to continue to make abortion access possible and support all of our community members in their ongoing struggle to live free from oppression.

Let’s turn our rage into resilience.

I imagined Nov. 9, 2016, a million times. I thought I would be skipping to work, high-fiving strangers, and crying. Turns out I only got the crying part right.

Women, people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and countless other groups are reeling. What does this mean for us? And what do we do now? I can answer that last one – right now, we can take care of ourselves. Self-care is incredibly important for our mental and physical health, our relationships with others, and our ability to just get through the day.

Sometimes you want to take action and feel like you are making strides to fix injustice, and sometimes you just want to make yourself feel better for an hour. Both are equally important and necessary. Below are some simple ways to take care of yourself as you deal with the emotional and physical toll the election results may have had on you.

Donate your time/money to a cause that will be under attack for the next four years:
DC Abortion Fund (of course)
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
The Trevor Project
Muslim Public Affairs Council
National Council of La Raza
Center for Reproductive Rights
NARAL Pro-Choice America
National Immigration Law Center
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)
American United for Separation of Church and State
Media Matters for America

Donate your time/money to organizations that help women prepare for and be elected to office:
Emerge America
Emily’s List
Running Start
She Should Run

Treat yo’self:
Spend 20 minutes with a dog. Don’t have a dog? You can come hug mine. He has a great smile.

Buy yourself a bouquet of flowers. Why not? There is nothing more frivolous and pleasant and you deserve it.

Hug a loved one. Maybe then need it, maybe you need it. It will help you both either way.

Take a walk. Go sit in a park and be outside. If you’re chilly, treat yourself to a ridiculously flavored latte to keep your hands warm.

Immerse yourself in a mindless, enjoyable, fluffy book. There are plenty of amazing indie bookstores in DC. If you tell the booksellers you want something to distract yourself for a bit, they will surely understand and have great recommendations.

Write how you are feeling. It doesn’t need to be anything for anyone but you. If you feel scared, write “I feel scared.” If you have a long, complex emotions that you don’t know how to grapple with, writing them down can help.

Order takeout and binge watch something ridiculous in your pajamas.

Go to a yoga class. There are plenty of free and by-donation classes in the city.

Call a friend. Have a meaningful or light conversation. Connecting with someone else can help you feel less alone.

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 need to be strong. We have work to do.

By volunteer Carrie E.

Crosspost: Supporting New Leaders in the Movement

megagraphicDCAF is an all-volunteer organization, and sometimes our day jobs overlap with our work in reproductive health and justice. This week, volunteer manager Lindsey is at the American Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting and Expo in Denver. Here’s a post she wrote for APHA’s Annual Meeting blog on Public Health Newswire, about building support systems to help the people most affected by issues of access to health care become leaders in the movement.

APHA’s Women’s Caucus has a long history of sponsoring Annual Meeting sessions on raising women’s voices (often with the organization Raising Women’s Voices). This year, the two groups highlighted the importance of lifting the voices of marginalized people — women, people of color, LGBTQ* people — by giving them the support they need to succeed in grassroots organizations.

Byllye Y. Avery, founder of the Avery Institute for Social Change and the Black Women’s Health Imperative as well as co-founder of Raising Women’s Voices, noted that in the reproductive justice movement (which, as defined by SisterSong, intersects with other justice movements, including racial and immigration justice) there has been a push to lift up those who are disproportionately affected by discriminatory policies that relate to health and wellness. But those with the passion and the will to raise awareness, start nonprofit organizations and work to effect change often don’t have the business know-how to keep the wheels turning, she said.

Read the full post at Public Health Newswire.

Crosspost: Our Heroes at Code for DC

codefordcDCAF has snazzy new patient intake software, thanks to the good people at Code for DC (and some intrepid DCAF volunteers as well). Learn all about how an all-volunteer team of more than 35 local programmers built this custom program from the ground up on Code for DC’s blog. We can’t say thank you enough!

It’s Here, with Beer: Taco or Beer Challenge!

tobcDo you wanna have a beer and taco-bout abortion? So do we!

This Friday, Aug. 12, at 6:30 p.m., DCAF, the National Network of Abortion Funds and the Women’s Information Network (WIN) will be hosting our tastiest fundraiser of the year: our third annual Taco or Beer Challenge!

Join us at Mission in Dupont Circle to eat a taco, drink a beer, donate to DCAF, and challenge your friends to do the same. That’s it? That’s it! We will have a spot for donations and swag – and anyone who donates $5 or more gets a wristband with drink specials.

Over the past two years, the Taco or Beer Challenge has raised thousands of dollars for abortion funds across the country. Check out the Taco or Beer Challenge Tumblr to see the smiling faces of those enjoying their food, beverages, and reproductive rights.

Interested? RSVP to the Facebook event here and invite your friends.

Can’t make it? That’s OK – you can do it anywhere! Enjoy your tacos and beer on your own turf and make a donation. If you want to take it one step further, snap a picture and join the online community of abortion fundraisers by using the hashtag #ToBC16. And feel to tag us on Twitter and Instagram at @dcabortionfund.

Mission is located just above Dupont Circle at 1606 20th St. NW. We hope to see you there!

by volunteer Carrie E.