Caring. Trusted. Unapologetic.

In 2016, the DC Abortion Fund had an amazing year of growth. Our Annual Report showcases our work over the last year to help providing funding for abortion care to patients either living in or traveling to DC, Maryland, or Virginia.

A few key highlights:

  • DCAF worked with 4,452 callers on our funding helpline.
  • DCAF case managers gave an average of $153 per patient.
  • DCAF case managers made 1,343 pledges.

Our previous Annual Reports can be found here.

We could not have done this without the work of our volunteers and the support of our donors. Please consider making a one-time or monthly donation to DCAF here.

We look forward to continued growth and success in 2017!

Unhappy Anniversary to the Dornan Amendment

There is no shortage of legislation aimed at eliminating abortion access for people in the United States. In fact, the number is growing. The most discussed in DC, arguably, is the Hyde Amendment—the legislation that bans the use of federal money for abortion except in the cases of rape, incest, or when the pregnant person’s life is in danger. Some states lessen the burden, which falls overwhelmingly on low-income people, by using their local Medicaid dollars to help pay for abortions.

Unfortunately, in DC, we also have the Dornan Amendment.

This month marks the sixth anniversary of the re-instatement of the Dornan Amendment, also known as the DC Medicaid Ban: the law stating that no congressionally-appropriated funds may pay for abortion in the District of Columbia.

Because Congress controls DC’s budget, the city does not have the autonomy to decide whether or not it wants to use its own locally raised Medicaid funds to help pay for abortions. And in a political climate that is increasingly hostile to abortion access, overturning the Dornan or Hyde Amendments seems unlikely.

At the DC Abortion Fund, we help low-income patients, many of whom are directly affected by the Dornan Amendment, pay for their abortions. In Fiscal Year 2016, 71 percent of our DC patients who reported their insurance provider said they were insured under DC Medicaid. This means they are faced with unjust coverage bans simply because their city is not permitted to control over its budget.

In Fiscal Year 2016, DCAF was able to fund over 1,300 patients, giving them the opportunity to access abortion services they may not have been able to afford otherwise. Because the Dornan Amendment affects so many people in DC, we see its toll on our budget. Many of these patients need to find additional funding that they would otherwise have from their Medicaid coverage, and money we give to one patient is money we cannot give to another.

DC may have fewer barriers to abortion than some states, however, even DC residents still face unjust burdens forced upon them by an anti-choice Congress.

Donating to DCAF helps us to alleviate some of the financial burden put upon DC residents by the Dornan Amendment. Your donation goes toward the patients who face an uphill battle when it comes to funding their right to choose.

Why I DCAF

Each year, I look forward to the National Network of Abortion Funds fundraisers—be it bowling, board games, or simply being a financial supporter. The activities are fun, the company is good, and it’s energizing to be around others who also support every person’s right to access abortion. Whenever I’m at a DC Abortion Fund event, I am sure that, together, we can make sure all people have the access they deserve.

Ultimately, I look forward to these fundraisers because I believe that everyone has the basic right to control their lives and their bodies—and the right to abortion is meaningless if you can’t afford it.  

Accessing an abortion can be expensive: the cost of the procedure itself, taking time off of work, and transportation to get there. No one should have fewer rights because they simply can’t afford it. That’s why this matters, and that’s why I DCAF.

I DCAF because I know what it looks like when we don’t have meaningful access to abortion. I’m from a tiny, rural town in California, a town where there was no real sex-ed in the schools and  where the high school had one of the highest pregnancy-per-capita rates in the state. It’s also a town where abortion was deeply stigmatized—no one talked about it, except to shame it. Even if you did know where you could get an abortion, most couldn’t afford it. For many, getting pregnant meant an end of choices.

I DCAF because the freedom to control your own body—to decide if and when to have sex, and with whom; if and when to get pregnant; if and when to carry a pregnancy to term—is essential for equality.

I DCAF because across the country, people are trying to chip away at equality, making it more difficult for people to control our bodies and our choices. Congress, states, counties, and towns—there’s seemingly no end to introduced legislation that would curtail abortion access. And at the same time many of these policymakers are making it harder to access birth control or information about safe sex. Let’s not call these measures anything other than what they are: sexist, racist, classist attacks on the fundamental freedom to control our very bodies.

I DCAF because there is no equality without abortion. Abortion is not only a question of gender equality—access to abortion is a question of economic and racial justice. If abortion is legal but inaccessible, then it’s only really a “right” only for those with money and privilege, and because of the deep racial injustice in our country, that disproportionately affects people of color. Access to abortion is necessary for economic mobility and for ensuring people can make the right choices for themselves.

I DCAF because 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 male politicians, not a partner, not economic circumstances.

Ultimately, I DCAF because I trust people to make their own choices about their own bodies and lives, and I am committed to making that choice real.

By volunteer Tarah D.

Dry Land performance with DCAF

Credit: Forum Theatre

We are proud to be a partner of Forum Theatre’s #NastyWomenRep which started on March 16. What Every Girl Should Know by Monica Byrne and Dry Land by Ruby Rae Spiegel examine the devastating consequences when women are denied their physical and emotional autonomy.

We need this conversation now more than ever.

As part of our partnership, Forum is donating 50% of the proceeds from the box office on Thursday, March 30 to DC Abortion Fund! We hope you’ll come out to see the show and raise money for DCAF.

Use discount code DCAF when you purchase tickets to the March 30, 8 p.m. performance of Dry Land for 30% off the normal ticket price. There will also be a special post-show discussion with DCAF volunteers following the performance.

Can’t make it on March 30? You can still use discount code DCAF to purchase tickets for every other performance of Dry Land and What Every Girl Should Know. After the April 7 performance, DCAF representatives will be joining a post-show panel on policy issues raised in the plays.

Gearing up for the 2017 Game-a-Thon

National Network of Abortion Funds

We are excited to announce our biggest fundraiser for the year: Game-a-Thon!

Each year, the National Network of Abortion Funds and local abortion funds work together to raise the bulk of our annual funding in the funnest way possible. You might see NNAF and other cities talking about the Bowl-a-Thon. In DC, we participate a little differently: We play games.

This year, we’ve set a fundraising goal of $70,000, and we need you to help us reach it.

Here’s how you can participate: create or join a team, then reach out to your families, friends, coworkers, neighbors, frenemies, etc. to ask for donations. Not so sure about how to fundraise for abortions? We’ll provide you with some tips and templates to help get you started.

With help from our amazing volunteers and supporters in the community, we surpassed our goal last year—and we hope to have the same success this year!

The event will take place on Saturday, May 6 from noon to 3 p.m. The location will be revealed to participants after registration.

Get started today by creating or or joining a team! If you aren’t in the DC area, or won’t be able to attend the event in person, you can still participate! Most of our fundraising before the event takes place virtually.

Stay tuned to the blog, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for our newsletter to follow along on our fundraising progress. You can also spread the word by RSVPing to the Facebook event and inviting friends.

For more information on the Bowl-A-Thon and why fundraising for abortions is a social justice issue, read NNAF’s Why We Bowl.

What We’re Reading This Month

It’s a new month and a new blog, but still we’re facing some of the same anti-abortion nonsense. Trying to stay abreast of all the attacks on reproductive health care can be exhausting. We know persistence and resistance works, which is why we need to do what we can to remain in peak justice-fighting shape! To do so, we need to sometimes focus on self-care and may set aside important reading to prioritize our health. This is why we’ve helped roundup some interesting articles so you can catch up.

So, what’s new with state restrictions you may ask? Not a whole lot, except that states are still trying to misinform and block access to crucial reproductive health. Of note, the Arizona Senate recently passed a new type of TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) law that requires abortion clinics to meet neonatal medical standards. Like many other TRAP laws, this bill ignores the life, autonomy, and rights of the patient who needs an abortion, and instead insists upon medically unsound and unnecessary practices to prioritize an unviable fetus. The Chicago Tribune reports that Montana has moved forward a similar bill in their Senate. In more uplifting news, here is a piece from the Pittsburgh PostGazette reminding readers of the importance of centering women when it comes to their health.

North Carolina introduced House Bill 62 which requires medical professionals to give false information to their patients. Of course, tactics that undermine and confuse the individuals seeking reproductive health care is not new—but abortion rights advocates must continue to counter these attacks. It’s not always bad news: check out this win of a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Florida!

To remain resistant, we must remain inspired! There are so many incredible individuals, coalitions, and organizations fighting for abortion rights. Women on Waves go through particularly epic measures to ensure women have access to reproductive health.

What reproductive rights stories are you reading? Share with us on Twitter at @DCAbortionFund!

By volunteer Alicia G.

Reproductive Justice Wins in Virginia

Credit: Planned Parenthood Virginia

The last few weeks have seen some surprisingly good news coming out of Virginia. In a win for reproductive justice advocates and patients, Governor Terry McAuliffe has vetoed a bill narrowly passed by the Senate that would have prevented the Virginia Department of Health from funding clinics that provide abortion services that would not be covered by Medicaid. This was the latest effort by Virginia legislators to defund women’s health clinics such as Planned Parenthood.

By vetoing this bill for a second year in a row, Governor McAuliffe is protecting the thousands of people who use Planned Parenthood for preventative health care, STD testing, birth control, breast exams, and a number of other vital health services.

Last week, the Virginia Senate also passed the Birth Control Access Act, which will require health insurance companies to cover a full year supply of birth control, rather than just a few months at a time. This is an enormous victory because barriers to contraception are a major factor in unintended pregnancies.

With a government that is expected to enact anti-choice policies in the coming years, we are happy to see support for reproductive rights coming through on the state level—especially in a state where we work to provide funding for abortion care.

What We’re Reading

A number of domestic and international reproductive health developments were in the news over the past month. Some of the stories we have been following relate to President Trump’s executive order on international health funding and abortions, a wrongful death lawsuit out of Alabama that could have repercussions for abortion cases in the future, and a recent study on abortion trends in the United States.

An article by Serra Sippel in the New York Times outlines the global health consequences associated with President Trump’s executive order that cuts off U.S. funding to health organizations that provide information or services related to abortion across the world. Although a similar funding restriction was in place during every Republican administration over the past 30 years, this order is more overarching, banning health funding for programs entirely unrelated to reproductive health or family planning. The article shares some devastating outcomes resulting from this global gag rule in the past, such as the halt of a condom distribution program in Lesotho during a period of 25 percent HIV prevalence among women, and the defunding of an awareness program about unsafe abortions in Nepal. Sippel explores two different studies — one from sub-Saharan Africa and one from Ghana — both establishing higher abortions rates in those regions during periods when the rule was previously enforced. The Atlantic also offers a good overview of the global gag rule.

In state news, the American Bar Association and Rewire News both reported a local Alabama case that brings up the questions of fetal personhood and doctor liability in negligence lawsuits. As the ABA writes, the Alabama Supreme Court allowed a patient to pursue a civil wrongful death lawsuit, alleging that her first-trimester miscarriage was the result of negligence on the part of her doctor. Based on suspicions of an ectopic pregnancy, which later turned out to be inaccurate, the patient was given a prescription by her doctor to terminate the pregnancy. Although Alabama law exempts doctors from criminal liability related to fetal death if it was the result of an unintentional mistake, the Alabama Supreme Court appeal allowed a civil legal action against the doctor. The Rewire article explains that, in 2006, the Brody Act in Alabama afforded personhood to all fetuses regardless of gestation in the context of criminal liability cases (while exempting doctors from prosecution), going against the fetal viability standard established in Roe v. Wade. In a concurring opinion in the current case, Tom Parker, one of Alabama’s Supreme Court justices, specifically addressed and rejected that fetal viability threshold, stating that fetuses are human beings regardless of their ability to survive outside of their mother’s womb.

Finally, we’ve been reading about some abortion trends. Christina Cauterucci at Slate reports that, according to a recent study by the Guttmacher Institute, abortion rates in the country were lower in 2014 than during any other year since the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973, dropping to below 1 million in 2013. That trend coincides with a decline in teen birth rates and in unplanned pregnancies across the country. One anti-choice activist attributed the abortions drop to stricter regulations denying women access to reproductive health care, while the study authors believe that the decline is at least partially due to greater access to contraception.

What reproductive rights stories are you reading? Share with us on Twitter at @DCAbortionFund!

By volunteer Maria S.