This past January I became a DC Abortion Fund case manager. I did this because I feel passionately about the right to choose, and being able to exercise this choice in your own community. These values overlap with my day job at Catholics for Choice where we advocate for a person’s moral and legal right to abortion access globally.
On May 25, Ireland took a historic step and overwhelmingly voted to repeal the 8th Amendment, which equated the life of a pregnant person with that of an embryo or fetus and criminalized abortion except if continuing a pregnancy would result in certain death.
While in college, I spent a summer living and working in Dublin, Ireland. From my first weekend in the Longford countryside, I was struck by just how welcoming and kind the Irish people were. Nearly everyone I met was eager to discuss political and justice issues. Given that this was the summer of 2016, there was certainly no shortage of topics.
I met and worked with Irish women who were strong, passionate, and deeply concerned about equality. Some shared my interest in reproductive rights; frequently leading us to discussions on the dark history of the 8th Amendment, and the emotional and financial burdens that traveling abroad for abortion care imposes. Many of these stories — from the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar to the X case — were new, and deeply alarming, to me. The ban on abortion seemed so out of step with the compassionate Ireland I was welcomed into.
Historically, the Catholic hierarchy has exerted a strong hand in Ireland, as demonstrated by their role in the introduction of the 8th Amendment in 1983. Since then, Irish Catholics have questioned both the Catholic hierarchy’s views and its role in a secular state. These Catholics have evolved in their positions on abortion.
On May 25, 66 percent of Irish people voted to repeal the 8th Amendment. Voters overwhelmingly said that they trust women with their lives, their bodies, and their futures. In a predominantly Catholic country, this vote reaffirmed what has always been true — Catholics can be, and are, prochoice.
Together for Yes, and activists across Ireland, ran a campaign built on compassion. They succeeded in lifting the stigma and silence surrounding abortion. Catholics discussed their faith and their values, and ultimately came together to support people seeking an abortion. Both men (65.9 percent) and women (72.1 percent) voted for abortion access at home in Ireland. People of all ages voted yes, with an astounding 87.6 percent of voters aged 18-24 standing up for the right to choose. Even rural constituencies, like Longford, voted for Repeal in impressive margins.
Ahead of the referendum, you could see thousands of Irish citizens traveling to vote Yes on #HometoVote. And while they were coming home, on average nine people a day were leaving Ireland for an abortion in the UK. Thankfully, this will soon be over.
The Irish referendum filled me with hope that this momentous example will inspire further progress in favor of abortion access both at home and abroad. We will certainly continue fighting to make this a reality.
By volunteer Casey B.
We’re going to be real with you.
Despite a very successful Game-a-Thon this year, the truth is that over the past 12 months, we’ve received more calls from patients—and more callers have had larger gaps in funding, or more expensive procedures—than ever before.
By June 30, we have a goal to raise $10,000. This will help to ensure that every caller receives the necessary funding for their abortion.
Can you pitch in $15, $25, $50, or whatever you can afford?
The question of whether or not to get an abortion is a question for only one person: the pregnant person. No one else should get to decide that—not a room full of politicians, not a parent or a partner, not economic circumstances. Help to ensure that every caller gets the abortion care they need!
The DC Abortion Fund’s Board of Directors is proud to endorse Yes on 77, a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage for tipped workers across all eight wards in the District of Columbia. DCAF patients face many barriers when it comes to accessing the care they need. While Initiative 77 will not eliminate all the barriers our patients face, we believe it’s an important step toward achieving true reproductive justice in our nation’s capital.
For workers in D.C., a fair, reliable wage can mean the difference between being able to afford healthcare or going without. Inconsistent or low pay affects many of our patients—particularly women of color and those working in economically underserved parts of the District.
This means they may have to make difficult decisions about their reproductive healthcare needs, such as using birth control inconsistently, or forgoing basic necessities like food, rent, or utilities in order to save up enough funds to afford the abortion and other services they need. Fair, reliable wages will also help workers support the children they already have.
We believe, if enacted, Initiative 77 would help reduce the financial barriers many DCAF patients face, as well as take an important step toward achieving full reproductive justice for people across all eight wards. Reproductive justice will not be achieved until everyone has the resources they need to create and support the families they want.
We recognize that there are strong opinions on both sides of the issue, including within our own organization and within the service industry itself, but the DCAF Board of Directors believes that voting yes will advance reproductive justice.
Editor’s Note: the post below is by Monica Weeks, Campaign Manager for One Fair Wage DC.
On June 19, 2018, all DC voters will have the chance to vote on ballot initiative 77. As President of the DC National Organization for Women and Campaign Manager of the One Fair Wage DC campaign, I am asking you to vote YES on 77 on June 19th.
One Fair Wage DC is a campaign for better wages and better tips. It calls for employers to pay their workers the full minimum wage PLUS TIPS. The campaign is led by women and people of color who live and work in the District of Columbia as tipped professionals in the restaurant industry. Ballot initiative 77 will incrementally increase the tipped minimum wage by $1.50 per year, until it reaches $15 per hour in 2025. Currently, tipped workers in DC make only $3.33 per hour with that amount increasing to only $5 per hour by 2020. We believe restaurant professionals deserve professional wages plus tips.
You might be wondering “what does this ballot initiative have to do with abortions or reproductive justice?” Women tipped workers are twice as likely to live in poverty as men in tipped occupations and they are nearly three times more likely to live in poverty than the overall workforce. Servers and bartenders in DC experience a poverty rate of 19%.
On top of that, the restaurant and hospitality industry is the single-largest source of sexual harassment charges filed by women with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), with a rate twice that of the general workforce. That is because tipped workers have to put up with unwanted and inappropriate behavior from customers in order to make a good tip, because the customer pays their wage, not their employer. And “the customer is always right.” In DC, 92% of restaurant workers in the District report sexually harassing behavior at work.
A fair wage for tipped workers will decrease sexual harassment while also improving access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion, which low-income women in DC are forced to pay for out-of-pocket. For women in DC, a fair wage can mean the difference being able to afford health care or going without.
Seven states have already eliminated the subminimum wage for tipped workers. The restaurant industry is strong in those states, demonstrating that it is economically feasible to phase out the tipped minimum wage without harming restaurant jobs or sales. Wages, including tips, are unambiguously higher in these seven states than in the other 43 states. And sexual harassment claims to the EEOC are cut in half.
With One Fair Wage, restaurants do better and workers do better. Seven states have proven that and we are hoping to make DC the first east coast municipality to make One Fair Wage a reality. Vote Yes on 77 on June 19th and stand with tipped workers as we fight for economic, racial, and gender justice.
We know the work we do together to help fund abortions is critical, because everyone deserves access to abortion care. But when we receive notes like this, it truly drives the point home:
“From the bottom of my heart, thank you for guiding us through this and advocating for my daughter and our family. I am overcome with the outpouring of support and want you to know how appreciative we are…she will go on and be a fierce, independent college student in the fall. I am so grateful. Please pass along our gratitude, words just don’t seem to be enough.” – Maria*, mother of DCAF grant recipient
Every person who calls our helpline is different and has their own unique story. But one thing remains the same: they all deserve the right to access the healthcare they need, regardless of what’s in their wallets or where they live.
DCAF’s work truly takes a village, and we appreciate all that you do to make sure our callers receive the care they deserve! We’re so proud of our work together during the Game-a-Thon fundraiser to raise over $115K — and your work throughout the year to speak with our helpline callers, host events, stuff envelopes, and so much more.
This movement needs all of us to keep showing up, day after day, to make sure callers like Maria and her daughter can access abortion. Numerous obstacles and policies are set up to restrict access to care, but together we can work to break down those barriers.
You can continue to help us fund callers like Maria and her daughter by making a one-time or monthly gift.
*Name changed for privacy.
This spring, the DC Abortion Fund hit an important milestone: 500 volunteers!
As an all-volunteer organization, this number is HUGE for us. Our volunteers are working at the ground level directly with patients who need funding for their abortions. By growing our volunteer base, we are better able to serve our community and work toward making abortion access a reality in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.
If you’ve ever been interested in volunteering with DCAF, the first thing you probably hear about is case managing. Our case managers handle our helpline, and are the ones speaking to patients every day. They are advisors and problem-solvers, not only assisting with the actual funding for the procedure, but also insight into other funding options and recommended clinics.
Case managing can be time-consuming and might not fit into everyone’s schedule, but don’t worry! There are tons of other ways to get involved in DCAF.
Some other volunteer opportunities include:
- Event planning. Each year, we organize two large events (the holiday party and Game-a-Thon), as well as smaller get-togethers and fundraisers.
- Fundraising. Our development team is always looking for help raising money and recruiting donors. They also need volunteers for smaller activities like stuffing envelopes and phone banking to our donors.
- Community outreach. DCAF is building our community outreach program, and would love new volunteers to jump in and help us build relationships with and support the communities that we serve, especially the local black, Latinx, LGBTQ, and faith communities.
- Advocacy. With so much new legislation focusing on reproductive rights, our new advocacy team is focused on making sure DCAF is heard by lawmakers, and that we are a voice for our patients and their needs.
- Coding. We have an amazing platform that helps us effectively and efficiently serve our patients. Help us fix bugs and build new features to grow with our increasing number of patients.
These are just a few of the many ways to get involved with DCAF, but there are always more. Do you love accounting? Data? Marching? Writing? We have an opportunity for you.
To sign up, get more information, or offer an idea, fill out our volunteer form or email us at email@example.com.
By volunteer Carrie E.
A pivotal election year can sometimes mean nonprofit fundraising runs a little dry, but this year, DC Abortion Fund advocates proved that there’s no rest when it comes to ensuring access to abortion care in the DMV.
Photo by volunteer Ashton K.
Photo by volunteer Ashton K.
More than 130 volunteers — some veterans and plenty of rookies — helped bulldoze past DCAF’s $80,000 goal for this year’s Game-a-Thon, our annual fundraiser, which raises more than a quarter of the organization’s budget each year. While nationwide fundraising was a little slow, DCAF fundraisers showed real hustle throughout the peer-to-peer fundraising. At the time of publishing, our volunteers had raised more than $95,000. And with a matching grant from a generous donor, we’re poised to pass even last year’s record-breaking $103,000 total!
Photo by volunteer Ashton K.
We celebrated this year’s successes on April 28 at Penn Social, where gamers, volunteers, and supporters enjoyed classic board games, arcade opportunities, and more. We highlighted some of the gamers who went above and beyond in their fundraising, and we looked great doing it!
Game-a-Thon wouldn’t be the same without the help of our generous sponsors. Shout out to Bossed Up, Chez Billy Sud, Kali Yoga Studio, Lotus Blooms, Maggie Germano Financial Coaching, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, and Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington for their help in making this event really sparkle!
Feeling inspired to give? It’s never too late to donate! You can even set yourself up as a monthly sustaining donor — making choice a reality all year round.
By volunteer Lindsey W., who also wrote about why she participates in the Game-a-Thon each year.
I fundraise for the DC Abortion Fund because I see the actual impact our dollars make.
The feeling of utter awe at the difference we’re making is clear to me every two weeks when I take a trip to our mailbox to retrieve our completed pledges from clinics. Often times the mailbox is overflowing, as the mailperson has stuffed it to its edges with completed pledges from clinics, each pledge a statement that we were able to help a person seek the abortion they wanted. Each pledge is also a bill we have to pay, for $100, $300, $600, or much more.
As the treasurer, it is both an amazing and watchful experience paying these bills, as I’m thrilled for the difference we make, but always vigilant and hopeful that we can raise the funds to make this difference. Since I see the direct impact of our dollars, and account for each dollar that comes into and leaves the organization, I see the astounding influence this yearly fundraiser has on our ability to serve our neighbors.
Thank you for fundraising. I cannot begin to tell you the amazing impact you are making.
By volunteer and treasurer Emily C.
You can donate to the Game-a-Thon by clicking here — or sign up to join a team!
I’m writing this in between posting pictures of my cat on Instagram. This might be a normal activity for me, but at this time of year, these pictures serve a purpose. They’re a personal, public thank-you to some high-dollar donors to my Game-a-Thon efforts.
This is my eighth Game-a-Thon with the DC Abortion Fund. Gather ’round, kids, as I tell you a tale of the time when we did actually bowl in D.C. like the rest of the country!
I joke about my age and history with DCAF. But this year I’m more serious than ever before about our efforts to raise at least $80,000 for the thousands of people who will call our helpline this year. As a case manager, I’ve had the privilege and frustrating honor to talk with many of them. They are the reason I push harder to raise more money every year.
The people who call our helpline are smart. They’re resourceful. They’re often frustrated, because it’s HARD to navigate finding a clinic and raising hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars for health care that is often not covered by insurance or Medicaid, and then to have to call strangers to ask for more help. Sometimes they’re mad. I’m mad too. It’s not fair that laws restricting abortion access target mostly low-income women and women of color. Sometimes they’re scared: Of protestors, of abusive partners, of the way their friends and family might react if they knew their loved one needed an abortion. Sometimes they’re sad, and I’m sad too: They may be calling to end a wanted pregnancy. They’re sometimes moms, and sometimes not. Sometimes I don’t talk to the patient, but I talk to their mom, or their partner, or their sister. Sometimes the patient is all alone.
While every call is different, they all end the same way: With relief. Yes, we can help. Yes, DCAF can help you pay for your abortion, and we can help you find other resources, too. Yes, this is one less thing you have to worry about. Our pledge is waiting for you at the clinic.
I don’t pretend to believe that we’re changing lives here. The patients who call DCAF are mostly very low-income, with families, often without jobs. None of that changes when we get off the phone. But we were able to make this one thing a little easier. To me, that’s everything. As a case manager, I can help, just a little bit. But I can’t do that without your help.
No matter how you give, please know that every dollar donated furthers our mission to help everyone access the care they need and deserve. You can be the one who makes things just a little bit better.
That’s huge. That’s everything. Thank you.
By volunteer Lindsey W.