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.

DCAF in the news: Jessica Arons in HuffPo

DCAF board member Jessica Arons writes on the Huffington Post: The Hyde Amendment has been in place for almost 35 years. We have long since passed from delayed justice to outright denial. Repealing the Hyde Amendment will not, by itself, ensure full equality for women of color and low-income women, but it is a necessary precondition…

Read the whole piece here.

DCAF in the news

Happy new year!  We’ve gotten a little press and blog coverage over the last few weeks, so here’s a brief round-up in case you missed it:

  • Frances Kissling of RHRealityCheck named DCAF president Tiffany Reed and longtime board member Alexis Zepeda as pro-choice heroines of 2010 for the years they’ve dedicated to launching and running DCAF.
  • The American Prospect quoted Tiffany in an article on how the new, more conservative Congress will affect DC politics and residents on issues including DC Medicaid coverage of abortion and US congressional representation.
  • Progressive catering company Grassroots Gourmet donated a batch of cookies for our holiday party in December, and gave us a nice shout-out in their blog post about holiday giving.

Here’s hoping the new year brings DC Medicaid payouts for abortion coverage and the end of the Hyde Amendment!

Why we DCAF

You probably know that DCAF is staffed by a team of dedicated volunteers, dozens of people who spend their free time, often hours and hours every week, assisting women and girls who need abortions in getting the emotional and financial support they need. You know DCAF raises thousands of dollars every year to help women in the District, Maryland and Virginia afford abortions they need. What you may not know is why these volunteers work tirelessly for the organization and the women it serves.

I can tell you what brought me to DCAF. I could go into the years I’ve spent volunteering with other women’s organizations, or the weeklong series about domestic violence that I coordinated as a Michigan newspaper editor. I could tell you about how I’ve supported friends who have chosen abortion, and those who have considered it but opted against it. But what I think it boils down to is this: I believe in women, and I believe we don’t have enough support, resources and/or advocates in our corner, especially when it comes to our health and bodies.

I know women who are so grateful they were able to have an abortion when they needed one, and I’ve met women who wish they could have gotten an abortion, but didn’t. Women deserve options and resources, and I want to help provide that.

Now, I am no medical professional. I couldn’t be trusted with a stethoscope. My networking and fundraising skills are pitiful at best. My phone voice is hopelessly nasal, Midwest and filled with “ums” and “likes.” But get me behind a keyboard or a pen, and I’m completely comfortable. This is where I can fill in—maybe even shine.

There’s an episode of Sports Night in which Sam describes the birth of television. Philo Farnsworth, the guy who invented the TV, was explaining his invention to his brother-in-law, a glassblower. Philo’s brother-in-law told him, “I don’t have your head for science, but it sounds like you’ll need glass tubes for this. I can make those for you.” That’s what I have to offer—I can make glass tubes.

Expect to read more about the lives DCAF touches—from caseworkers to fundraisers, board members to community members—in the future. From the collective voice of DCAF volunteers and benefactors, there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of stories that explain, again and again, why we’re here.

The work DCAF does is so important, so crucial for the women of DMV. Hundreds of women who otherwise could not have afforded abortions were able to get them because of the work we do. These women are mothers, daughters, students, workers, young and “of a certain age.” They are women you know. For me, it’s not a question of “should we get involved,” but “how can we not?”

How to pay for your abortion

Our parent organization, the National Network of Abortion Funds, posted a great list detailing the financial counseling questions that abortion funds like DCAF have to ask callers to help them find funding for their procedures.  It is not pretty, but it is necessary.  The Chicago Abortion Fund has a similar list here.  Here’s a short list of questions excerpted from the NNAF list:

  • What would happen if I went without a landline?  Can I shut off my cellphone for a month?
  • Can I call my children’s school about subsidizing their lunch for the next few weeks?
  • Do I have anything valuable I can pawn for a few weeks?
  • Can I sell some of my furniture, my television, my bike?
  • Can I sell the unused portion of my monthly bus/train pass?
  • Have I considered collecting bottles or cans on recycling day?

After financial counseling with a volunteer DCAF case manager, DCAF callers call our hotline back with the amount of money they have raised toward their procedures.  Based on that amount and the caller’s circumstances, their case manager will make a pledge toward the amount of funding assistance we can provide to supplement what they have raised.  The average grant we disbursed last year was only $149.

Such a small amount makes a tremendous difference for women and girls in our community.  So please include DCAF in your holiday giving this year by making an online donation today.