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.

DCAF Holiday Party raises more money than ever!

Thank you to everyone who made the DCAF Winter Holiday Party such a great success! We packed the Enlightenment Room at Topaz Hotel, and by the end of the night, raised more than $10,600 dollars – and donations are still pouring in!

“Peace, Joy and Choice” brought dozens of people out to celebrate DCAF’s mission – to help area women get the abortions they need. The average woman who calls DCAF for assistance receives $149 in financial support. With the donations we raised, we’ll be able to provide 71 women with that same grant assistance.

Feminists and friends gather to celebrate DCAF!

Feminists and friends gather to celebrate DCAF!

“It was a huge success,” said DCAF Board President Tiffany Reed. “More people showed up than ever before and we filled the room all night long. We got more sponsors than ever before, too.”

Board members mingle

Board members mingle

Of course, we couldn’t have done it without the help of our fabulous sponsors. More than 40 items were donated for the evening’s raffle, from yoga sessions to T-shirts to an adorable plush uterus. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t thank our sponsors:

Jack and Frances Heller (our top sponsors this year!)

Suzy Filbert

George Lizama/Production Solutions

Michael Rizzo

Catholics for Choice

NARAL Pro-Choice America

and many more!

Our volunteers know a good raffle when they see one!

Our volunteers know a good raffle when they see one!

Again, thank you to all who came and celebrated with us. We had a great time, but it’s important to remember that during the holidays and throughout the year, women are still struggling to pay for their abortions – especially since DC Medicaid hasn’t paid a dime yet for a single abortion beyond what the Hyde Amendment allows, even though federal restrictions were lifted earlier this year. But we’ll be sure to keep you posted on that issue here!

What’s a Year in the Life of DCAF? Our Annual Report

We are proud to release our FY 2008-2009 Annual Report, as written by our very own board member Diana Philip.

To read our FY 2008-2009 Annual Report, please click here.

We know that we often come to you with fundraising requests and exciting events and so the day to day information like…women

Who do we serve?  What are their stories?  How old are they?

What is our budget? Where does it come from?

How great is the community need?

are questions that get lost in the race to meet the demands for our services.  So in that spirit our annual report seeks to make it all a bit more transparent.

A few key highlights:

  • 971 calls placed to the DCAF Hotline in FY 08-09
  • 335 individuals were offered grants, 234 received funding
  • Demand for our services has increased 200% over the last three years

To read our FY 2008-2009 Annual Report, please click here.

Bowl-a-Thon Raises $14,503.25 for DC Abortion Fund

About three or so weeks ago, two women came to the DCAF board and said, “Hey, we saw on twitter that the other Abortion Funds are doing bowl-a-thons in May. We want to plan one for you. We pretty much won’t take no for an answer

We agreed to bowl. Shock. Silent glee. Acceptance.

We set an ambitious goal of $4,000.

Thanks to the amazing women who spearheaded this event, Danielle Geong and Val Vilott (aka Han-Bowlo & Millenium Val-Con), we blew past the $4,000 mark! Then the $8,000 mark! At the urging of the National Network for Abortion Funds, we changed the goal to $12,000.

And then the DC pro-choice community blew that goal out of the water too!

While the last day to make a bowl-a-thon gift is Friday May 7, as of today… we’ve raised $14,503.25!

Let’s put that in perspective:

  • Average annual income of the women we serve $7,000
  • ALL Event-related donations made between July 2008 – June 2009 (FY08-09): $6,275

Thank you for coming together as a community to make this event so successful!