A New Day for DCAF!

For the last six years, it has been my honor to serve as Board President of the DC Abortion Fund. As my term comes to a close, it is my pleasure to announce DCAF’s fearless new leader, Val Vilott!

Val is taking the reins at a critical time. As you may already know, we have seen a great increase in our call volume since April, when the federal government tragically banned DC Medicaid from paying for abortion services. Today, DCAF receives over 20 calls a day from low-income women who need help funding an abortion.

Please help DCAF continue to fund these women during a time of great economic disparity – and as we advocate with our allies for sound, pro-woman health care policies in the District.

Our new Board President has been a rising star in the pro-choice community for several years. Val joined the DCAF Board in 2010 after launching our most successful fundraising event in history – the annual Bowl-a-thon!

Since then, Val has worked tirelessly on the Board. She is a natural-born leader and I am confident that she will serve the women of DC, Maryland and Virginia well. I know that Val will take the Fund to new levels with her commitment to public service and reproductive equality. I am honored to continue to serve alongside her as Board President Emeritus, spearheading fundraising efforts.

The need is only increasing, but we are rising to the challenge. Last month we trained 22 new Case Managers. These dedicated volunteers will work with our clients to help them overcome barriers and access the legal health care they feel they need and deserve.

It is the dawn of a new day here at DCAF, and I am so excited to be a part of it. I hope you will join me in welcoming Val Vilott as our new President!

Legislating Discrimination: Why the DC Abortion Ban Hurts

Once again the federal government is harming women and girls in the District of Columbia. Congress is including a ban on allowing DC to use it’s own money to have DC Medicaid cover the cost of an abortion procedure. The passage of this oppressive and discriminatory legislation means that many DC women, girls, and their families, will be denied the health care that they need and deserve.

Women are disproportionately impacted by the cost of health care. Among the reasons for this gender disparity are the facts that women are more likely to be low income, they earn less than men, and they are more likely to list cost has a barrier to getting health care.Women of color feel the impacts of health care costs even more acutely. Women are also less likely to have health insurance through their employer, since only about half of women are employed full time; compared to almost 75% of men who work, and this has left women more reliant upon public health insurance programs, or uninsured.

Nation-wide, African Americans experience the largest disparities in health care, and they have higher incidences of disease, disability and premature death. African-American women are less likely to receive health care than other racial or ethnic groups, and when they do get care they are more likely to receive it late. This includes getting prenatal and other maternal care, and African American women are up to 4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women.

To be eligible for Medicaid in DC you must be low-income as defined by the federal poverty guidelines- about $10,000 (or less) for a single person, and $22,050 (or less) for a family of four. You must also meet one of the following qualifications as well- 20-years-old or younger, be the caretaker of a child under age 19, pregnant, aged 65 or over, or have a disability.

Here are some numbers to keep in mind:

This is a bill that will only serve to harm low-income women of color in the District. It is not about promoting life as so many anti-choice lawmakers will try to allege since limiting access to reproductive health care will only increase the disproportionate number of maternal deaths among women of color.

by DCAF volunteer Maggie R.

Happy Father’s Day!

For all of the great fathers and supportive partners out there – thank you for being wonderful. Happy Father’s Day!

House FY12 spending bill has DC abortion ban

The US House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government will mark up the FY’12 appropriations bill [PDF] today to regulate District of Columbia funding.  One important choice-related issue is included in this legislation: the D.C. abortion ban prohibiting federal and local funds from being used to pay for abortions.

As you all know, earlier this year, anti-abortion members of Congress reimposed the D.C. abortion ban through the FY’11 budget.  This came after a two-year period in which the District was free from abortion-funding restrictions.  DC Medicaid finally began covering abortion services between February and April of this year,  and in that short time paid out $62,000 for abortions for low-income women and girls.

Yesterday morning we learned anti-choice members have included the D.C. abortion ban in their funding bill once again.  Not only is this policy dangerous for women but it also usurps the District’s own local governance, undermines the city’s self-rule, and makes a mockery of the democratic process in the nation’s capital.

We know the need in DC for abortion funding assistance is higher than ever.  As long as Congress refuses to serve low-income women, DCAF will.  Please donate today to support our work ensuring all women in our community have access to abortions.  Women across the DC area are counting on us, and with your help we can make an immediate difference in their lives.

The committee markup is scheduled for today at 11am in Room H-140 of the US Capitol building.

Come Laugh With DCAF next week!

Our friends at DC NOW, the Younger Women’s Task Force-DC, and the Women’s Information Network are hosting a benefit party for us!  Please join the DCAF board for a fun evening with a cause…

Laugh with DCAF!
Hosted by E.J. Ruchman

Thursday, May 26
Madam’s Organ
2461 18th St. NW
5:00 – 9:00pm

Featuring the comedians:
Tyler Richardson  –  Jessica Brodkin
Reggie Melbrough  –  Hillary Buckholtz
Rahmein Mostafavi  –  Mikey Larrick
Emily Ruskowski

A portion of food and drink purchases & all raffle/door donations benefit the DC Abortion Fund.  So bring prochoice friends, lovers, classmates, coworkers, and relatives!  $5 suggested donation.

While DC NOW strives to hold events in accessible locations, Madams Organ has one step in and bathrooms are down 1/2 flight of stairs. Madams Organ staff is happy to assist people entering.  Ages 18+.  Thanks so much for your support, and we look forward to seeing you there!

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.