The Fight for DC Statehood is a Fight for Abortion Access

Our Movement Building Director was featured last week in Rewire, talking about DC statehood and its connection to abortion access.

The bottom line: “Abortion access should not be restricted by partisan wins and losses. And the fight for statehood should not be restricted to DC residents…It is imperative that we see DC statehood as not only a fight for budgetary autonomy and Congressional representation, but as part of the fight for bodily autonomy, generally, and abortion, specifically.

You can view the article in its entirety.

Taco + Beer + DCAF = Perfection.

Do you love tacos, or beer, or both? Same. If you’ve attended the Taco or Beer Challenge with us or another abortion fund in the past, you might remember it’s quite a popular event where we eat tacos, drink beer, and donate to help people access abortion care—it’s just a win-win situation.

This year, we’re cooking up a new kind of challenge and doubling the fun! The week of September 10, three bars and restaurants in the city are hosting benefit events for DCAF which will help even more of our callers access the care they need.

And this year, we’ll also be celebrating our incoming president Dee and our outgoing president Jeryl, so come by for a chance to meet them!

Plus, if you attend all three events, donate to DCAF, and post about them with the hashtag #DCAFTOBC, you’ll receive a free gift!

Here are the details:

Tuesday, September 10
Where: Taqueria Nacional, 1409 T Street NW (U Street)
Perks: DCAF gets 10% of proceeds on food and drinks from 5 to 8 p.m. — and that includes extended happy hour drink specials.

Wednesday, September 11
Where: Johnny Pistolas, 2333 18th St NW (Adams Morgan)
Perks: DCAF gets 15% of all proceeds on food and drinks from 5 to 7 p.m.

Thursday, September 12
Where: Espita Mezcaleria, 1250 9th St NW (Mt Vernon Square/Convention Center)
Perks: Come celebrate our incoming president Dee and outgoing president Jeryl for everything they do to make abortion accessible! Plus, DCAF gets 10% of proceeds during their regular happy hour (4-6 p.m.).

We hope to see you! You can donate to the campaign to start us off strong!

Can’t make it to one of these events? Take the virtual Taco or Beer Challenge the week of September 10! Just eat a taco and/or drink a beer and donate to DCAF. Be sure to share a photo using the hashtag #DCAFTOBC so we can see your smiling faces.

Hi! I’m the new DCAF president

It’s been a busy few months at DCAF, but I wanted to take a moment to say hi! If you don’t know me, I am Dee, the incoming president of the DC Abortion Fund.

I’m no stranger to DCAF. I joined DCAF back in 2014, first serving as a case manager and then serving on the board for the past 3 years.

I do this work because I believe that people accessing abortion should be the primary decision makers of their lives, and I refuse to let systemic oppression get in the way of people accessing health care.

Abortion funds like DCAF redistribute resources to build a better world where access isn’t determined by what’s in your wallet or where you live.

The road ahead of us is long. Abortion continues to be marginalized in the health system. People continue to need to travel further and further for care. Those who access care and those who do this work continue to be met with opposition and vitriol. But together, we are a powerful network of volunteers and donors who are here for the people whose care is at risk, and we are not going anywhere.

DCAF’s work truly takes a village, and we appreciate all that you do to make sure our callers receive the care they deserve. This movement needs all of us to keep showing up, day after day, week after week.

If you’re as excited about the future of DCAF as I am — consider chipping in and becoming a monthly donor, or making a special one-time gift!

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.

We believe Candice Russell

A few months ago, we were disgusted and appalled to read Candice Russell’s story where she described sexual misconduct by Dr. Willie Parker. 

We believe Candice Russell and extend our support and solidarity to all survivors — whether they choose to share their stories publicly or not. 

As a reproductive health organization striving to embody reproductive justice, we at DCAF believe that justice, care, and autonomy for survivors and safe environments for all are key components of actualizing reproductive justice. We feel strongly that it is up to our movement to embody the world that we want– where everyone is safe, supported, and cared for in the way that they feel is best for them. 

Everyone deserves an environment free of discrimination and harassment. Reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations and progressive spaces must be the leaders in the fight against harassment — and too often they fall short.

The National Network of Abortion Funds wrote this well in their statement responding to the allegations:

“Every person in the abortion access movement holds responsibility for fostering an ethical environment, free from harassment, violence, and improper or unprofessional conduct, sexual and otherwise. We all hold this responsibility, whether we are an abortion funder, provider, volunteer, employee, or supporter. When one of us is accused of failing to live up to these standards, it is all of our responsibility to make space for victims to speak or be silent as they choose, and with values of autonomy, compassion, intersectionality, and collective power, move through accountability and restorative justice towards healing.”

We want to take this opportunity to lift up the incredible work that Candice Russell has brought to the movement. A powerful abortion storyteller with We Testify and board member of the NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, she has worked to bust abortion stigma. We thank her for her bravery in speaking truth to power.

-The DC Abortion Fund Board of Directors

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.

So-Called “Heartbeat Bills” Across the Country

Ohio, my home state, recently became the third this year alone to pass an extreme so-called “heartbeat” bill, which bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected — sometimes just  six weeks into a pregnancy. Ohio’s new governor, Mike DeWine, signed the bill into law earlier this month.

Former DCAF president Kersha Deibel, who is now President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region said it well:

“Politicians in the Ohio State Legislature just passed one of the most extreme abortion bans in the entire country. And they’re not stopping there –– after years of passing anti-abortion laws under the guise of protecting patient health and safety, they lay bare their true motives: to ban abortion in the state of Ohio. Politicians have no right to dictate personal medical decisions. Make no mistake –– these bills punish women. When politicians attack health care, they disproportionately impact people of color, women, the LGBTQ community and young people. We must work to ensure access to health care does not depend on who you are, where you live, or how much money you make.”

Versions of this dangerous “heartbeat bill” have also been passed in Georgia, Arkansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Kentucky, and Mississippi.

Let’s be honest here: most people don’t even know yet that they are pregnant at six weeks. That’s only two weeks after a missed period,  when the fetus is the size of a pea. Even more disturbing: the new Ohio law makes no exceptions for rape or incest.

Six-week bans were once considered extreme even by some anti-abortion groups, and Ohio’s previous governor, Republican John Kasich, called the ban “blatantly unconstitutional” after vetoing it twice.

But with the recent dramatic right turn of the Supreme Court, Roe vs. Wade is in greater danger than ever of being overturned entirely. Anti-abortion groups have been emboldened by the Trump administration, especially radical Vice President Mike Pence, who vowed to see the end of legal abortion “in our time.” At a time when countries like Ireland are expanding  abortion access, the United States is rapidly turning back the clock on reproductive rights, along with threatening the LGBT community, people of color, and Indigenous peoples.

The new law will, of course, be challenged in court, subjecting the taxpayers of Ohio to lengthy and expensive legal battles. The ACLU and Ohio abortion providers are already planning to sue the state. But, with anti-choice judges such as Brett Kavanaugh now in lifetime appointments, taking this battle all the way to the Supreme Court is exactly what many anti-choice extremists are hoping for.

With the far right fighting against better sex education and increased access to birth control, along with the shrinking number of healthcare centers that offer abortion services (for example, Ohio has 8, down from 17 in 2014), a perfect storm is brewing that will prove disastrous for families around the country.

That is why I’m proud to be a DCAF volunteer. We will continue to help provide support for pregnant people in our community and the increasing number of people who must travel to the DC area to seek abortions. No matter what happens.

By volunteer Molly C.  This blog reflects the views of the author.

Game on for Abortion Access!

It’s DCAF Game-a-Thon time and that means it’s time to help us raise money for people seeking abortion care in the DC area!

Hold on, what’s a Game-a-Thon? It’s our annual peer-to-peer fundraiser which concludes with an afternoon of our community coming together to play board games, jenga, cornhole, and more to celebrate raising tons of money for abortions.

Why is this important? We don’t need to tell you how many state and national restrictions we face under this Administration — 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.

What can I do? 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. Then come hang with the coolest pro-choice people in town to celebrate! Easy, right?

But, fundraising for abortion is…not something I’ve done before.You won’t be alone! We’ll regularly provide you with tips and tricks to make sure you have what you need.

What if I can’t make it to the celebratory wrapup event?We’ll miss you! But that doesn’t mean you can’t be part of a team and fundraise for DCAF! A great deal is done online, so as long as you have an Internet connection, you can help out.

Let’s rock this year’s Game-a-Thon together as we work to make abortion accessible — and have a blast while doing it! Sign up now to get started.

And save the date for our community celebration to mark the end of the fundraising period: the afternoon of Saturday, Apr. 27 (location details will follow, but it will be metro-accessible).

Have questions? Don’t hesitate to ask us at events@dcabortionfund.org.

Special thanks to our many sponsors who made this event possible, including Maggie Germano Financial Consulting and The Bar Method in Bethesda.