DC Cash Assistance

Editor’s Note: The DC Abortion Fund Board of Directors drafted the statement below, urging Mayor Bowser and the DC Council to work quickly to make cash assistance available to those who are unable to access federal assistance or unemployment benefits.

We call on Mayor Bowser and the DC Council to make cash assistance available to the tens of thousands of District residents who will not be able to access federal assistance or unemployment benefits, including undocumented immigrants, sex workers, street vendors, and others who are a key part of our community and who deserve to be protected.

DC residents who most urgently need cash assistance are disproportionately Black and brown people with low incomes. Unfortunately, pervasive discrimination in employment, health care, education, housing, and adjusting one’s immigration status has led to many DC residents needing to seek income from excluded areas of work under the new program. “Excluded workers” from the cash assistance program are not only the ones who encounter the brunt of systemic discrimination, but also who bear the brunt of the health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic itself. While we recognize that the District is not the sole responder, it is a necessity that the labor of all of our residents is valued and recognized by both local and federal governments. 

Prior to the COVID-19 national emergency, these communities already experienced systemic barriers to economic stability. DCAF’s callers face a myriad of obstacles when it comes to accessing the care they need, especially our callers whose livelihood falls under “excluded” categories. Since the pandemic began, we have heard firsthand accounts from our callers and volunteers about the additional barriers to abortion access they face, such as added logistical barriers like the lack of transportation and child care, and economic barriers such as a reduction in income or job loss. Cash assistance will allow our callers to meet their basic needs, including access to abortion care.

DCAF stands with the District’s “excluded” workers. During this unprecedented pandemic, it is more important than ever that people can keep themselves safe and healthy and are given what they need to survive. We feel strongly that investing in our community is what we need to navigate and eventually emerge from these trying times with strength and resilience. 

We urge Mayor Bowser and the DC Council to work quickly to make cash assistance available to those who are unable to access federal assistance or unemployment benefits in order to promote the health and wellbeing of everyone in our community so that all DC residents can meet their basic needs.

COVID-19 and Abortion Access in the DC Area

AT THIS TIME ALL CLINICS IN THE DC AREA ARE OPEN. WE WILL UPDATE IF THAT CHANGES.

It’s more important than ever for us to all take care of each other. DC Abortion Fund is holding our community close at this time (even if we are not physically together) and we are here for you. 

We are thinking especially of those who are multiply marginalized — people of color, families with lower incomes, service industry workers, health care workers, small business owners, undocumented people, people with disabilities, people with chronic or high-risk health conditions, and people experiencing homelessness — as we navigate this global pandemic.

Here are some resources we pulled together that we hope are helpful. It will continue to be updated as the situation is still evolving.

For People Seeking Abortions

Our lines are still open. 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. To help keep your information safer, we cannot assist with funding via email.

If you are calling on behalf of someone who is pregnant, please follow the same instructions and let us know your relationship to that person.

A volunteer will return your call shortly. Our volunteers can help you estimate how much your procedure will cost, and provide detailed financial counseling to assess your financial need and funding options. After a case manager determines that you are eligible for DCAF funds, they can pledge funding assistance accordingly.

We strongly suggest you contact the clinic on the day of any office visit, prior to coming to the site. If there is a closure, the clinic should inform you, but it is always best to double-check before you travel. If you feel ill, contact your clinic to ask for advice about how to move forward. 

At the clinic, try to keep your distance from other patients whenever possible. If you can, leave 6 feet of space between you and other patients and staff. 

For People Wanting to Support DC Abortion Fund

Throughout this pandemic, one thing remains the same: people will continue to need abortions.

We still need your support to make sure people can get seen as quickly and as safely as possible. 

If you’re in a position to fundraise or donate, we encourage you to sign up to raise money during Fund-a-Thon, our annual peer-to-peer fundraiser.

We understand how weird and maybe even uncomfortable it might feel to ask people for money at this time. People are losing their jobs at an unprecedented rate, and there are a lot of things on everyone’s mind other than fundraising. 

But with more people struggling economically and travel across state lines becoming more challenging, your help is especially critical to ensure people calling our helpline are able to access the abortion care they need. 

We have tips and talking points you can use if you choose to fundraise at this time, and we’ll share more ideas and support in the coming weeks. We’ll also continue to evaluate our plans in light of the changing situation.

If you are unable to fundraise or give at this time, you can still help by sharing information about DCAF and our Fund-a-Thon campaign via email and social media (see page three of our toolkit).

Helpful Resources

People continue to need access to abortion

We are in unprecedented times, and our hearts go out to everyone right now.

Many of us are processing feelings of fear, isolation, confusion, anger, and sadness.

We are thinking especially of those who are multiply marginalized — people of color, families with lower incomes, service industry workers, health care workers, small business owners, undocumented people, people with disabilities, people with chronic or high-risk health conditions, and people experiencing homelessness — as we navigate this global pandemic.

But one thing remains the same: throughout this pandemic, people will continue to need abortions.

At DC Abortion Fund, we have been practicing responsible social distancing, and our work is mostly done by volunteers remotely, so not too much has changed in our day-to-day operations because of COVID-19. We will continue to monitor the situation, act in the best interest of our callers and follow the lead of our partner clinics, and follow any relevant CDC guidance.

For now, we still need your support to make sure people can get seen as quickly and as safely as possible.

If you’re in a position to fundraise or donate, we encourage you to sign up to raise money during Fund-a-Thon, our annual peer-to-peer fundraiser.

We don’t need to tell you how many state and national restrictions we face these days — designed specifically to deny access to abortion, especially for people of color and people with lower incomes.

And now, with more people struggling economically and travel across state lines becoming more challenging, your help is especially critical to ensure people calling our helpline are able to access the abortion care they need.

If you are able, please create an online fundraising page and commit to raising as much money as you can by asking your friends and family to donate. (We are working on messaging that you can use in this difficult time.)

As we practice social distancing to limit the spread of the coronavirus, it’s more important than ever for us to take care of each other.

Fund-a-Thon for DCAF

We’re excited to announce that Fund-a-Thon is here!

You may be wondering, “What’s a Fund-a-Thon?” It’s our annual peer-to-peer fundraiser! The goal is to work together in small fundraising teams over the next two months to raise money for abortion. Our former iterations of the event — Game-a-Thon, Bowl-a-Thon, and more — were our biggest fundraisers of their respective years and key to our budget, so we’ll need your help to make Fund-a-Thon 2020 a big success! 

For those who are new to joining our cause, this is one of our greatest opportunities to raise money for DCAF throughout the year, so your involvement is crucial. 

Today, we have witnessed an enormous increase in state and national restrictions that are designed specifically to deny access to abortion, especially for people of color and people with lower incomes. Now, more than ever, we need your help to ensure people calling our helpline are able to access the abortion care they need.

So how can you help? Create an online fundraising page, join or start a team, and commit to raising as much money as you can by asking your friends and family to donate.

You don’t have to be in D.C. to join in the FUNdraising! 

We Fund Abortion

If you have never fundraised before, don’t worry, you won’t be alone! We have all the resources you could need, including sample emails you can send, and we’ll regularly provide you with tips, tricks, and support. Plus, some of our seasoned fundraisers are always happy to help newbies out!

To kickstart the FUNdraising (We just can’t stop), join us for a Fund-a-Thon launch happy hour on Friday, March 6, at Town Tavern in Adams Morgan. You will be able to ask questions, connect with other DCAF volunteers, and begin raising money for our cause. 

by volunteer Shelby R.

A Year of Growth and Planning for the Future

In 2019, there was once again an increased demand for our services. As the abortion landscape around the country becomes more restrictive, more patients have been traveling to the DC area for their abortion care—and more people are turning to DCAF if they need help paying for their abortion.

As we look to our 25th anniversary in 2020, our commitment to ensuring that every individual receives proper abortion care has never been stronger.

Since DCAF started with a handful of volunteers in 1995, we have been dedicated to making abortion care not only legal, but accessible to people who need it.

This past year, we spent time aligning ourselves and our volunteers with a shared understanding of a reproductive justice framework—which includes greater transparency for callers, stronger collaboration between abortion funds that centers callers’ experiences, and updated intake processes that affirm callers’ agency. 

We will continue to work to center the needs of assist our callers by further developing our existing partnerships, and growing our connections to movements, organizations, and individuals who share our values—goals that have never been more crucial.

Right now, the basic right to abortion access is under severe attack. For the first time in our nation’s history, the president of the United States spoke at the annual anti-choice rally in Washington, DC. 

Though this is emblematic of the increasingly constrictive legislation surrounding abortion care in our country, we believe that no individual should be denied one’s reproductive rights because of politicized barriers. 

We’re thankful for 25 years of folks like you, supporting our work, staffing our lines, and being right there with us as we grow and innovate.

Your support made a direct impact in meeting the needs of patients — and we are so grateful for you. You can view some highlights from our exciting year of growth in our  FY19 annual report.

One thing is certain: When we say “your rights shouldn’t depend on your wallet,” we mean it. 

No matter what, our lines stay open, and that wouldn’t be possible without your support. 

We can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together in 2020 and beyond!

by volunteer Shelby R.

“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.

Celebrate with us

It’s been quite a year of growth for DCAF! Hundreds of volunteers stepped up this year to answer calls from patients, stuff envelopes, fundraise and host events, and advocate for the right for everyone to be able to access abortion care.

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 Tuesday, Dec. 10.

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

Get your ticket for a suggested donation of $30 today!

The funds raised for this event — like all donations to DCAF — will help to continue to make abortion accessible for all.

Special thank you to our incredible sponsors!

Diamond
CARE (Clinics for Abortion and Reproductive Excellence)
Catholics for Choice
DuPont Clinic
Geong/Pimentel Family
Michela Masson
Sara Morello

Emerald
Abortion Wholigans
Alford Family Foundation
Amanda Bartelme
Rebecca and Brandon Gotwalt
The Guerra Family
In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Upshift Strategies

Jade
Advocates for Youth
Center for Reproductive Rights
Dr. Sara Imershein
National Health Law Program
National Women’s Law Center
Planned Parenthood Advocates for DC, Maryland & NoVa
Marvourneen and Carrie Ross-Dolor
Arvind and Parul Subramanian
WACDTF

Garnet
Laura Craig Mason and Zach Mason
Emma DayBranch
Shana Fitzpatrick
Gausman Appraisals
Catherine Heffernan Gibson
Arona Kessler
Marie Lindberg
Amy Mannarino
NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland
Marya Torrez & Michael Farmer
URGE

Amethyst
Jessica Arons and Shira Saperstein
Jane Carter
DCAF Board of Directors
DC Chapter, National Organization for Women
Caitlin Gullickson
Lisa Hodges
If/When/How
Alison Jones
Mindy and Danny McGrath
Caroline O’Shea
Julia Quinn
Tiffany Reed
Rewire.News
Tina & Brian Seliber
Kate Vlach and Jon Ettinger

Pearl
Carol Bartlett Bowman
Amy J. Cotton
Emily Crofoot
Laurette Cucuzza
Carrie Engel
Claire S. Gould & Joe Sprott
Scott Raymond LMT
Joy Levin Welan
Val Vilott