DC Abortion Fund Condemns Amy Coney Barrett SCOTUS Nomination

In the middle of a global pandemic and with just weeks to go before the 2020 election, President Trump has nominated Amy Coney Barrett, an anti-abortion extremist, to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat.

Amy Coney Barrett is staunchly anti-abortion and has suggested  that abortion is “always immoral.” As a judge on the Seventh Circuit, she repeatedly sided with hostile states in defending restrictive and medically unnecessary abortion laws. Although abortion is already out of reach for many people, the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett would all but guarantee further restrictions in abortion access. If she is confirmed, anti-abortion extremists will get much closer to their goal of overturning Roe v. Wade or rendering its protections meaningless for people seeking abortion care across the country.

Amy Coney Barrett has also opposed efforts to ensure equitable access to contraception. In fact, she signed a letter criticizing the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate and the Obama administration’s accommodations for religious entities.

As the SCOTUS prepares to rule on the legality of the ACA, her confirmation will put the future of the Affordable Care Act at risk. Amy Coney Barrett has critiqued Justice Roberts’ decision upholding key parts of the Affordable Care Act. If confirmed, she is likely to be on the bench for the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act, which is scheduled to be heard this November, just days after the election.

Even more troubling, Amy Coney Barrett also holds dangerous views on LGBTQ equality. She has defended the dissenters in Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark Supreme Court ruling which made marriage equality the law of the land — and has suggested that Title IX rights afforded to trans people be reviewed.

But this fight is not just about Amy Coney Barrett — Trump has packed the nation’s federal courts with more than 200 judges in lifetime positions, including Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, and many others with records of hostility to reproductive rights and abortion access. 

Here’s three things you can do right now to fight back:

  1. Donate to DC Abortion Fund! Abortion funds like ours are going to need your dollars more than ever if Barrett 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 and explain why she is a bad pick — along with the hypocrisy of confirming a new Supreme Court justice less than 40 days before the election.
  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 an abortion fund in their state.

Immigrant Justice is Reproductive Justice

Editor’s Note: The below statement was made by the DC Abortion Fund Board of Directors in response to reports of forced and coerced hysterectomies of detainees at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers in Georgia.

This past week, we, like many of you, read the horrifying reports of forced and coerced hysterectomies of detainees at ICE detention centers in Georgia. The DC Abortion Fund stands in solidarity with the survivors of this appalling injustice. 

We also know that the stories we have heard are not isolated incidents, and we honor the legacies and stand with the many Black, brown, and Indigenous people who have suffered and continue to be harmed by the long history of state-sanctioned violence, forced sterilization, and attacks on bodily autonomy in this country. We know that these incidents in Georgia are not isolated, but a part of an insidious and sickening pattern of violence and neglect at the hands of ICE and the US government within our borders and abroad. ICE is a rogue agency with a track record of violence, negligence, and the destruction of communities and families, and it must be abolished. For too long, we have been hearing accounts of abuse and medical neglect within the agency, and this reckoning is long overdue. 

We also stand with and owe a great deal of gratitude to nurse Dawn Wooten, the brave Black woman who risked it all and spoke out about these injustices, and to the many immigrants who have been and are continuing to share their stories in Georgia and beyond. 

We are sickened and outraged at the blatant disregard for human rights demonstrated by this inhumane treatment and the other unacceptable health conditions of LaSalle Corrections facilities and other detention centers, jails, and prisons. As an abortion fund, we fight for the values of reproductive justice where all people have bodily autonomy and access to care for themselves and their families. We stand with our community to fight for immigrant justice and racial justice as we condemn the existence of ICE, the violence it inflicts, and the legacy of white supremacy that it upholds. 

We encourage you as a member of the DC Abortion Fund community to learn from and donate to the folks in Georgia and beyond who have been sounding the alarm on these grave injustices for years. We will continue to update this list as we have more information. In addition to our partners in abortion funding at ARC-SE, we encourage you to explore Project South, Georgia Detention Watch, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, South Georgia Immigrant Support Network, Families Belong Together, UndocuBlack, and the Black Alliance for Just Immigration

The Taco or Beer Challenge is Back

The tastiest challenge is back! Like in previous years, the Taco or Beer Challenge (backstory here) is all about eating tacos, drinking beer, and donating to abortion funds—but this time, we’re doing it virtually.

Here’s how you can participate in three easy steps:

Step 1: Grab takeout or beer to support one of the restaurants that have partnered with DCAF in the past—or make tacos at home.

Step 2: Donate to DCAF!

Step 3: Share your photos of steps 1 and 2 with the hashtag #DCAFTOBC, tagging at least three friends to challenge them to do the same.

Want to take the challenge with friends? Join DCAF for a virtual happy hour on Thursday, September 17, where we will do all those things together!

“I had an abortion during the pandemic.”

Editor’s Note: the story below was submitted anonymously by someone who had an abortion in DC.

So, I had an abortion during a pandemic.

I’ll be honest. As someone who has fought for abortion access for most of my career, it still felt very surreal when I missed my period, felt like my body just felt “different,” and bought a pregnancy test. Let alone the anxiety feeling all of this during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I’ve never wanted to become a parent (except a parent of cute furry animals and plants), so I knew intimately what I would do if I ever was in this situation. I just never thought I would be.

I’ve always been safe. I have a loving, caring partner who has supported me being safe and is equally supportive of my decision not to have children. I have been lucky to have been educated by my parents, my school, and by the internet on how to avoid getting pregnant if you don’t want to be.

But still here I was, staring blankly at a positive pregnancy test. Not wanting it.

I was nervous to tell my partner. Not that I was afraid of what he’d think or say, but because it just felt so embarrassing. Even though I’d spent years telling people in this same position that they should not be ashamed or embarrassed at all. That it happens.

I took the positive test and threw it in the trash. And then I sat back on the couch to watch another few episodes of whatever mindless show we were watching. But my mind raced. I was on my iPhone, as always, except instead of stalking work email or Instagram stories, I was looking up local abortion centers with appointments available in the next few days, and if they were open during the pandemic.

I found one near me that was open and made an appointment for two days later.

I told my partner the day before my appointment, kind of in passing. “So, I’ve been late. I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. I made an appointment for tomorrow at an abortion center to take care of it.”

“Wait, how did that happen?” were his shocked words, followed by “and do you want me to come with you?”

“Nope. It’s a pandemic so you can’t… but also, this feels like my mistake. We’ve been safe. So I don’t know how it happened exactly.”

He corrected me: “Hey, it’s OUR mistake.”

We hugged.

A day later, I was in an Lyft to a DC abortion provider. Alone. Wearing a mask and feeling really awkward during the 20 minute ride. I didn’t tell too many people about what was happening, but most I told had offered rides. But this felt like my burden and I wanted to face it alone. Plus, the clinic said I couldn’t have anyone in the waiting room with me because of the pandemic.

I finally got to the clinic at long last, signed in, and waited. After what felt like 20 minutes but was more realistically 2, I met with a nurse and explained how I had been feeling. She asked a few questions and confirmed I was pregnant. Exactly 5 weeks pregnant, actually. She asked if I wanted to see it. “No way,” I said adamantly (though I snuck a glance after she left the room. It looked like a dot). She asked if I wanted to FaceTime my partner. “Nah, it’s ok,” I said, feeling like even if they could’ve joined me to this experience outside of COVID-19, it felt very much like my experience; not ours. It was my body, after all.

“You know, I do a lot of advocacy work for abortion and keeping clinics around the country open and accessible,” I said, feeling awkward. “Even so, I have to say that it feels weird when it happens to you.”

The nurse laughed through her mask. “Girl, it’s always different when it’s you. I know what you mean.”

About 30 minutes later, a few minutes into pill #1 and after learning that no, my “excellent” health insurance from the progressive organization I work for would not cover my abortion (which cost over $400), I was calling a car back to my apartment. I was armed with abortion pills I’d take 48 hours later and so grateful that I had more than $400 in my bank account to pay for this ordeal. I know that most Americans cannot afford an unexpected $400 expense. It’s one of the stats I rattle off all the time when people ask about abortion access.

Still wearing a mask in the car, I felt so much more free.

“How’s your day going, ma’am?” the driver asked.

“It’s not too bad, given everything,” I said dryly, pointing at our masks, the experience that bonded us all in 2020.

“I feel you, I feel you,” he laughed. We chatted through our masks for the next 20 minutes about the weather, Mayor Bowser’s response to COVID-19, and the Trump Administration’s ignorance with a lot of “sorry what?” “what was that?” punctuating our conversation through the muffling of fabric.

As we arrived at my apartment building, we exchanged a look.

“Good luck, ma’am!”

“You too! Thank you!” like I’d normally say to a Lyft driver. Like I was just coming home from work, or the movies, or a night out with friends. Things none of us have done in months because of the pandemic.

And then I took the elevator up to my apartment. I knew I was going to be just fine. But all I could think of was the many, many patients who would struggle to get the pills I just had gotten. Who would experience real hardship paying $400 out of pocket. Who might have kids already to feed and care for. Who might be in abusive relationships. Or who just might not have a clinic near them.

I felt more than grateful. And more determined than ever to fight for abortion to be accessible for everyone.

June Medical Services v. Russo and Abortion Access

Some positive news! Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision in June Medical Services v. Russo means Louisiana’s clinics will remain open, despite anti-abortion efforts to shut them down.

The Court ruled that the state’s abortion restriction – which is almost identical to one it struck down a few years ago in the 2016 Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt Supreme Court decision – cannot stand.

We know these laws that masquerade as “protecting our health” don’t have any backing in safe abortion care. Full stop. And that even with this setback to their plans, anti-abortion groups will continue to stop at nothing to make it harder and harder for people to access abortion care.

Even with yesterday’s decision, abortion remains out of reach for many – especially Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), people who face documentation barriers, transgender and gender nonconforming people, and other people who are routinely denied access to health care in Louisiana and in many other states across the country. And these barriers are compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in places that are already impacted by harsh abortion restrictions, delayed access to health care, and economic instability.

Defending against anti-abortion restrictions is not enough when the reality is that abortion is accessible only to people who have resources.

DC Abortion Fund is committed to ensuring abortion is available to all who need it, regardless of how much money they have or where they live.

We regularly work with other abortion funds across the country, including Southern funds, to ensure callers can access the abortion care they need. Take action today by supporting abortion access in states like Louisiana, where so many barriers still remain, or here in the DC area, where many people travel for their abortion care because of the abortion restrictions in their home state.

This movement needs all of us to keep showing up, day after day, week after week, and calling out all the ways abortion is inaccessible for the people calling abortion funds like DCAF.

It is unacceptable to remain silent.

We’ve been overloaded with information about so many violent, terrible things, in the midst of a global pandemic that’s creating uncertainty about what life will look like days, weeks, months from now. This week, we’re reminded that the same hands that built the systems that caused George Floyd and Eric Garner and so many others to not be able to breathe at the hands of racist police violence, built the one that makes it so COVID-19 disproportionately infects and kills Black people so that they literally cannot access their bodily, human need to breathe.

This same system still, is the one that creates barriers to reproductive access that makes it so that so many Black people cannot breathe easy and make autonomous, attainable choices about their health.

It’s the one that makes it impossible for many to breathe easy as they walk in a public park or go for a run. Breathing is central to telling a story that captures a room, taking a walk in a safe neighborhood, sleeping well at night because you and yours are taken care of…it’s everything.

We must say their names.

George Floyd
Ahmaud Arbery
Aiyana Stanley-Jones
Alton Sterling
Amadou Diallo
Atatiana Jefferson
Botham Jean
Breonna Taylor
Claude Reese
Clifford Glover
Corey Jones
Darnisha Harris
Eric Garner
Freddie Gray
John Crawford
Jonathan Ferrell
Jordan Edwards
Kathryn Johnston
Keith Scott
Kendra James
Korryn Gaines
Mike Brown
Malissa Williams
Nina Pop
Oscar Grant
Pamela Turner
Philando Castile
Randolph Evans
Rekia Boyd
Samuel DuBose
Sandra Bland
Sean Bell
Shantel Davis
Shelley Frey
Stephon Clark
Tamir Rice
Tarika Wilson
Terrence Crutcher
Tony McDade
Tyisha Miller
Walter Scott
Yvonne Smallwood

And so many more known and unknown.

Everyone perpetuates and internalizes white supremacy. We all can and must do the work every day to dismantle systemic anti-Black racism — with people with white privilege taking on the majority of the work.

It is unacceptable to remain silent while we continue to see Black women, Black men, Black youth, Black children, and Black trans and nonbinary people experience violence at the hands of police. We will not be silent.

We encourage you, as a DC Abortion Fund supporter and friend, to support and follow Black-run organizations in Minneapolis, Atlanta, and D.C. like Black Vision Collective and Reclaim the Block, local ones in DC doing the work like BYP100, Collective Action for Safe Spaces, Black Lives Matter DC, and the DC chapter of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (Cash app account: $dmviwoc), and national organizations like The National Bailout.

And especially to our non-Black supporters and supporters with white privilege, there are some great resources to help you start or continue your journey at being anti-racist.

If you have never taken action, now is the time to speak out, learn more, donate, and critically, join an organization and do the work.

In solidarity,
DCAF Board of Directors

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