Happy Mother’s Day from DCAF

On behalf of the board of directors of the DC Abortion Fund, I want to wish you a very joyous Mother’s Day!

Every day I’m inspired by the women who find DCAF and how they maneuver the harsh policy hurdles that affect their access to health care.

On this Mother’s Day, we want to honor a special demographic of women we serve: the mothers of minors seeking abortions.

Rena* is a single mother of four and pays her household bills with her bi-monthly disability checks. This week she called DCAF looking for help for her 14-year-old daughter Rachel*. Rachel is a straight-A honors student and has won multiple athletic scholarships at school.

Rachel had been suffering from fibroids and was seeing her gynecologist regularly to figure out treatment. She was given a pregnancy test that came back negative and the green light to start treatment. When she returned to her doctor’s office this past week, she was given an ultrasound before her fibroid procedure. This is when Rachel’s doctor broke the news: not only was she pregnant, she was well into her second trimester. Rena was shocked and Rachel was devastated. Rachel had not missed a period and had had sex once, with a friend.

The clinic that Rachel was referred to gave Rena DCAF’s number. When she called, she told me that she needed several thousands of dollars for Rachel’s procedure. Rena had $2,000, which was her life savings.

Rena said, “If I don’t get the abortion that my daughter wants…that she is begging me for…it will haunt me for the rest of my life.”

Immediately DCAF’s network sprang into action — DCAF was able to make a significant financial pledge and contact other partner organizations on Rachel’s behalf. And with DCAF’s financial counseling, Rena was able to raise another $500.

Today I called Rena and Rachel to let them know we had raised enough money for her procedure tomorrow and I could hear them cry tears of relief on the other end of the phone.

Rena has asked me to thank the amazing individuals who have made it possible for her to give her daughter a second chance. And I was so inspired by Rena’s persistence and compassion for her daughter that I wanted to share her story with you.

DCAF salutes mothers everywhere. We know firsthand that the business of compassion is not always easy, but always just and right.

Of mortarboards and abortions

Ah, spring is in the air.  Pep bands are playing endless loops of Pomp and Circumstance, graduation announcements are circulating like tree pollen, Hallmark cards with money slots are selling like hotcakes, universities are inviting anti-abortion legislators to impart their wisdom to dewy-eyed graduates.

Here in our nation’s capital, prochoice students at the Catholic University of America were thrilled to learn their commencement speaker this Saturday will be US Speaker of the House John Boehner.

Under Speaker Boehner’s leadership, last week the US House of Representatives passed the anti-abortion bill HR 3, The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act.  The bill would codify both the ban on DC Medicaid coverage for abortion and the Hyde Amendment prohibition on Medicaid coverage of abortions for low-income women, amongst other things.

To protest Speaker Boehner’s commencement speech at CUA, several students are fundraising for DCAF.  Please stand in solidarity with feminists at Catholic this week and donate to DCAF in honor of Speaker Boehner. Thanks for your support!

URGENT: DC Medicaid Abortion Funding Ends At Midnight

Tonight we received an urgent call from a partner clinic to notify us that DC Medicaid is ending it’s coverage of abortions at MIDNIGHT TONIGHT.

The clinic had to call 28 women who are scheduled tomorrow and bringing their DC Medicaid as payment that they need to fundraise for the total cost of their procedure by their appointment tomorrow because Medicaid will no longer cover the cost of their abortion.

These women are devastated. We need your support NOW.

The clinic has asked if the DC Abortion Fund could pay for a percentage of the cost of all 28 abortions scheduled tomorrow slated to be covered by DC Medicaid, all of which cost several hundreds of dollars.

We never want to turn a single woman away – and now these 28 women need us.

They need YOU. Please help DCAF pay for these abortions by giving an emergency contribution RIGHT NOW. Your contribution will go DIRECTLY to help pay for abortions that DC Medicaid will no longer cover.

The 28 women have only a few short hours to fundraise for their procedures tomorrow, because for many of them the total cost will be out of reach. Please make an emergency gift right now and please forward this email to anyone you know who supports women. This is an URGENT plea to the pro-choice community for help.

DCAF’s Bowl-a-Thon Is Second Largest in US!

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The DC Abortion Fund Bowl-a-Thon fundraiser is just 3 DAYS AWAY! Get excited!!!

The DC prochoice community is furiously fundraising for our Bowl-a-Thon this Sunday, and we have overtaken Rhode Island’s Women’s Health and Education Fund to be the second-largest Bowl-a-Thon fundraiser IN THE COUNTRY.  We are $3000 short of our fundraising goal of $20,000, so let’s make these last 3 days count!  Ask your friends, family, roommates, mail carrier, landlords, and strangers to donate to DCAF — every little bit will help women and girls in our community.

We are so grateful for the support of pro-choice activists from across the country who have opened their wallets for us.  This week has been really tough since DC Medicaid coverage of abortions ends today (thanks Congress!) but your generosity has really blown us away.

Congress cuts DC Medicaid abortion coverage

During last week’s budget standoff, we saw congressional leaders fight over giving women the health care services that they need and deserve. This fight was not about saving money, but rather a harsh political tactic driven by anti-choice members of Congress.

A compromise was reached, but at what cost?

Congress has yet again thrown away the rights of DC women, and Friday’s budget deal included a rider to reinstate a ban on taxpayer funding of abortions in the District of Columbia.  Just as they always have, anti-abortion lawmakers will further their agendas on the backs of DC women.

We are outraged.

We MUST fight back. Stand up for the women of DC by supporting our work with a generous donation today. It is critical that we boost our fund since the need for DCAF grants will increase, and we can’t sustain our work supporting women without you.

Please donate to DCAF today so we can help women in DC pay for the abortion services they need and deserve.

Congresswomen stand up for women, abortion providers

“In these tough economic times,” as many budget stories begin, lawmakers are looking for ways to slash federal and local spending. Promises are made – and broken. People look to their representatives in government to do the right thing, in order to benefit their communities. After all, it takes money to run a country, and to help the people who live there. The budget has to be balanced somehow.

Rep. Mike Pence thinks that can be done by cutting all federal funding of Planned Parenthood. On the House floor Thursday, he announced that while “abortion is ‘unfortunately’ still legal in the U.S.,” his amendment would prevent taxpayer money from “funding abortion procedures.” On Friday, the House voted to cut all federal funding to Planned Parenthood.

Make no mistake, this is NOT an amendment designed to save taxpayers’ money. Planned Parenthood is already prohibited from spending federal money on abortion services. It must use private money to pay for abortions – that’s why groups like DCAF exist to help make up the difference when women can’t foot the bill themselves. The Pence Amendment is really an attempt to deny contraception and other family planning services, sex education, PAP smears, HIV screening, prenatal care and all the other non-abortion related services it provides to millions of women each year by cutting off all federal money to Planned Parenthood – unless it stops performing abortions. In essence, it’s an indirect attempt to deny abortion services by making federal money an incentive for Planned Parenthood to get out of the “abortion business,” but it is a direct attack on all the other services the government currently funds – services that no one else is equipped to provide on the same scale should Planned Parenthood be denied the money.

The whole crux of the Pence Amendment’s existence is to limit women’s access to abortion, or deny it all together. This isn’t fiscal responsibility; it’s another slap in the face of women’s reproductive health.

Thankfully, some leaders in Congress saw the amendment for what it is. The Washington Post has reported that Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Barbara Lee and Louise Slaughter argued that the Pence amendment is a “war against women.” And on the House floor Thursday night, Rep. Jackie Speier spoke about her own abortion – and called the amendment’s supporters out for having nothing to do with building the economy, and everything to do with denying women the health care they need.

“There is a vendetta against Planned Parenthood, and it was played out in this room tonight,” Speier said. “I would suggest to you that it would serve us all very well if we moved on with this process and started focusing on creating jobs for Americans who desperately want them.”

You can watch her whole statement here:

Rep. Jackie Speier In Opposition to the Pence Amendment

And when Rep. Paul Broun suggested that “more black babies” are targeted by Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, Rep. Gwen Moore shot right back, pleading with them “to not de-fund the ability of women to plan parenthood.”

“I am really touched by the passion of the opposite to want to save black babies. I can tell you, I know a lot about having black babies: I’ve had three of them,” she said, going on to describe her experience as a poor mother who had an unplanned pregnancy. “The public policy has treated poor children and women who have not had the benefit of planned parenthood with utter contempt.”

Her words are poignant, and no blog post could summarize them. Listen for yourself here:

Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) In Opposition to the Pence Amendment

Happy Anniversary, Roe v. Wade!

Today marks the 38th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade.

Given the ongoing battles to secure full and equitable access to comprehensive medical care – including abortion – for women, today provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the implications of Roe and the strides we have made as a movement.

In the spirit of Roe, we asked some of our board members a simple question: On its 38th anniversary, what does Roe v. Wade mean to you?

“To me, Roe means the freedom for women to reach their full potential and determine the course of their own lives.”

“To me, Roe v. Wade means being empowered to decide when to be a parent.”

“Roe means I am allowed to choose what I do with my body. Roe is about trusting women to do what is right for them, their families and their community.”

“Roe allows women and girls the legal right to access abortion care and with that, the right to decide how their reproductive capacities determine the meaning of “family”.  In the spirit of  Roe, women and girls can seek legitimate, safe, quality health care in order to help maintain the resources and energy they already provide to those in their care and safeguard their future fertility in case they desire to add to their existing families.”

“Roe is a step toward the day women are no longer second-class citizens in this country.”

“For me, Roe v. Wade is the Supreme Court’s acknowledgment that women are not defined merely by our biology;  we too have the right to self determination.”

“Roe v. Wade means that it’s not up to anyone else to tell me what to do with my body.”

While the anniversary of Roe makes us grateful for the rights we do have, there is much left to do to protect, and advance, the rights of women.

So today, on the anniversary of Roe, please remember how fragile access to choice is for many women in this country. Without access to public funding for abortion care, funds like DCAF are working as hard as we can to fill the unmet needs in our community.

Surprise, Surprise: HR3 Does Wrong By DC

Since returning to work this session, the new House of Representatives leadership has made clear attempts at gutting already-limited access to abortion and health care for women, including a vote to repeal the health care reform law passed last year.

Next up on the agenda is House Resolution 3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”,  which claims to codify current (unfair) law regarding restrictions on public funding for abortion. Unsurprisingly, the Act actually oversteps current laws quite a bit while at the same time levying unfair taxes on families, small businesses, and others.

And here’s the kicker! As discussed over at DCist, this most recent attempt by the House is not only a gross attempt at eliminating access to abortion care for women. It also singles out our home: the bill includes the District’s locally-raised tax revenues in the prohibition on federal taxpayer dollars funding abortion care. As DCist rightly notes, “This is a restriction that Congress couldn’t easily make on any state, but given our status as the legislative body’s favorite colony, can be imposed on the District without any real consequences.”

For us pro-choice Washingtonians, this adds real insult to injury.

For more information on HR 3, be sure to check out DCAF Board Member Jessica Arons’ post about the bill over atRH Reality Check.