No CHIP Funding? Not a Good Look for Reproductive Health

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is on shaky ground.

Part of my daytime job is to monitor and report out all the latest news on CHIP, and let me tell you, it’s not always a pretty picture. Since running out of funding earlier this fall, the health coverage of 9 million kids and teens under 19 years old is now up in the air.* Despite promises to extend CHIP, Jimmy Kimmel’s heartfelt pleas, and tons and tons of research showing the impact of inaction, several states are now warning families that, hey, they might need to look elsewhere for their children’s routine check-ups, immunizations, and prescriptions.

It’s not a good look to begin with: throwing vulnerable communities into a lurch and deepening their hole into poverty as things like rent and utility bills and groceries are traded in just to get the essential health care services they absolutely deserve.

Is that a bleak picture for you? Well, it gets a little worse. Did you know CHIP also plays an extremely important role in reproductive health care for these low-income kids and teens?

In the United States, nearly all of teen pregnancies are unplanned. One report from the Guttmacher Institute has the number as high as 75 percent! (And even more harrowing, teens in the low-income brackets are more likely to become pregnant, which is the exact demographic CHIP covers.) But through initiatives like CHIP, all teens—regardless of income—can have access to the reproductive health services they need. Which, in my view, is really awesome.

It’s a well known fact that women who decide to become pregnant and have access to quality family planning information are better prepared for the demands of a pregnancy. But let’s face it: not all things can be carefully planned. That’s where prevention comes in. Sadly, low-income kids, teens, and their families are more often than not the ones who cannot afford access to reproductive health care and the resources to prevent unintended pregnancies. But CHIP helps to bridge that gap!

From routine gynecologic exams to sexuality education and pregnancy testing to pregnancy care, CHIP helps prevent pregnancies in the first place, and, if they happen, helps these teens have better delivery, healthier babies, and healthier lives. Ultimately, it’s a win-win: reducing the rates of unintended pregnancies for teens in low-income communities leads to huge net public savings. For example, in 2010, publicly funded family planning services saved over $15 billion bucks.

With all these amazing things that CHIP does, it’s mind-boggling that funding hasn’t been extended. If our elected officials can’t reach agreement on extending funding for CHIP, they are taking away low-income adolescents’ access to basic reproductive health services. Again, not a good look.

*CHIP covers 9 million uninsured, low-income children whose parents earn too much for Medicaid, but not enough to afford other types of private coverage. Learn more about CHIP.

By volunteer Kaitlyn B.
Kaitlyn is the Communications Specialist at Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families.

Give the gift of hope.

Happy holidays!

It’s been quite the year of growth for DCAF! Despite 2017’s challenges, we have provided funding for more patients than ever before. And more than 400 volunteers stepped up this year to answer calls from patients, stuff envelopes, fundraise and host events, and advocate for the right for everyone to be able to access abortion care.

We need to keep this momentum going into 2018. Now, more than ever, we need your help to continue our work to help patients access the abortion care they need.

The question of whether 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 politicians, not a partner, not economic circumstances.

Give the gift of hope and justice this holiday season. Help us bridge the gap between what a patient can afford and the cost of her abortion.

Partners in Choice: Catholics for Choice

Editor’s Note: Catholics for Choice is a sponsor for our Peace, Joy, and Choice holiday party. Thank you to the entire Catholics for Choice team for your work and your support. All answers below are attributed to Glenn Northern, Director of the Domestic Program at Catholics for Choice.

What is the mission of Catholics for Choice?

As the new Director of the Domestic Program at Catholics for Choice working here has been a dream come true. I have spent my adult professional life working in the field of reproductive health rights and justice, and I am incredibly proud to work towards helping make sure that every woman is able to exercise her conscience.

We do such important work at the nexus of religion and reproductive health because Catholics for Choice represents the vast majority of Catholics around the world who disagree with our church’s hierarchy on abortion, contraception, religious liberty and the role of religion in the public sphere. We lift up the lived expression of Catholicism as everyday Catholics around the world see it. Catholics for Choice trusts women and men to make their own moral decisions on important moral matters including reproductive health. We do so because the Catholic social justice tradition teaches us that each individual should have the right and the means to follow their conscience in moral decision making, and never denied the care they need based on how much money is in their pocket or because another’s beliefs impede it.

Why do you support the DC Abortion Fund?

Personally, I have given money to DCAF because it is important to me to make sure that every woman has the ability to make the choices that are best for her. It is wrong that someone should not be able to afford the healthcare that they need. It is wrong that someone should be denied an abortion because they cannot afford it. I, like my colleagues at Catholics for Choice, want to do my part to ensure that all women can exercise their right to choose.

From an organizational standpoint, Catholics for Choice is a proud sponsor of DCAF and has been from the beginning because DCAF instills the social justice values we at Catholics for Choice hold dear. Our staff has always been inspired by DCAF because they provide support, hope and resources for those who need an abortion. Because of DCAF, reproductive healthcare in the District is more equitable, and this is a goal that I think we can all get behind.

What did CFC do in 2017 of which you are most proud?

It’s so funny that you ask that! Just yesterday, I was talking with a partner about how even though I have been in reproductive rights for so long, one of our recent campaigns still managed to totally floor me. A lot of my drive for reproductive rights comes from working towards justice and dignity for all, and I think that our recent Abortion in Good Faith campaign was a particularly moving expression of both of these values that I hold close to my heart.

Abortion in Good Faith showcases the voices of Catholics from various walks of life who believe that all women deserve the right to equitable reproductive healthcare, including abortion access—no matter how much money they have, where they live or what they believe. This campaign loudly and unapologetically shows how public funding for abortion is a Catholic social justice value and why Catholics across the United States stand with women and their right to decide. We were able to feature everyday Catholics: a feisty but gentle grandmother, an earnest and thoughtful graduate student, a determined mother and former legislator and others, all of whom articulate why they, as Catholics, support public funding for abortion access.

These were all remarkable individuals, and I am proud to play a part in lifting their voices. Here are some examples to show you just why this campaign moved me so much.

    

More tangibly, the campaign played a role in the Illinois Governor signing HB 40 into law, lifting the state funding restrictions for abortion under Medicaid and the state employee’s health insurance program. It’s not every day that you get to see the direct, meaningful impact of your work, so this was a special moment for us.

Bringing it back to DCAF, Catholic social justice means we take care of our neighbors, especially those with fewer resources than we might have. This is the goal of ours through Abortion in Good Faith, and DCAF works every day to make that a reality for each and every woman who seeks their help. I am really proud to work for an organization that supports DCAF.

What are your reproductive rights resolutions for 2018?

My resolution is to continue fighting back—to do what seems difficult and prevail. This past year has been particularly difficult, but it’s said that it is always darkest in the middle of a tunnel, so I know that the light is on its way.

Personally, I am committing to use my heart, mind, skills and energy to make real a world where all people are able to exercise their conscience without coercion, stigma or financial barriers hindering their choice of what is best for them.

As a team, Catholics for Choice sees 2018 as an opportunity to win big for women’s autonomy. We will continue to offer thought leadership in Conscience magazine, expand our outreach both at home and abroad and serve as a voice for the majority of Catholics who are, in fact, prochoice. We’re ready to keep fighting.

Cheers to Choice!

It’s been quite the year of growth for the DC Abortion Fund! We provided funding for almost 1,400 patients, and more than 400 volunteers stepped up this year to answer calls from patients, stuff envelopes, fundraise and host events, and advocate for the right for everyone to be able to access abortion care. And we have a new president!

Join us next month to toast our incredible community at our annual Peace, Joy, and Choice holiday party on Tuesday, Dec. 5!

Here are the details:

Who: You and the rest of the DCAF community
What: DCAF’s Peace, Joy, and Choice Holiday Party
When: Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Town Danceboutique (2009 8th St., NW)

Get your early bird ticket for a suggested donation of $20 today! After November 20, the ticket price will go up to $25. Tickets will also be available at the door for a $30 donation.

If you or your organization are interested in sponsoring this year’s event, please click here to learn more about levels and packages. The funds raised for this event — like all donations to DCAF — will help to continue to make abortion accessible for all.

On Twitter or Instagram? Follow along on the hashtag #DCAFparty. We look forward to seeing you there!

Meet Our New President: Jeryl!

We’re excited to welcome Jeryl Hayes as DCAF’s new president. A longtime advocate for social justice and reproductive rights and an experienced health policy lawyer, Jeryl has worked in coalition with many DC-based reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations. She officially starts her term today and we’re ecstatic to have her on board as we continue to grow as an organization.

 

“I am thrilled to serve as the next president of DCAF. I have long admired the impressive abortion support that DCAF provides for the DC, Maryland, and Virginia communities, particularly as an all-volunteer team. It will be a great honor to work with both the DCAF Board and volunteers to help patients access abortion care services. I look forward to engaging in the direct services linked to the policies for which I have spent my professional career advocating.” – Jeryl

You can meet Jeryl this Friday at a volunteer happy hour around City Center. Please email volunteer@dcabortionfund.org for the exact location.

You can reach Jeryl at president@dcabortionfund.org.

Heartless Measure

This week, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 36, which would criminalize abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for situations in which the life of the pregnant person is at risk or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest and the survivor meets the criteria for reporting or receiving treatment for the assault. Doctors can be punished by up to five years in prison and/or fines if caught performing or attempting an abortion after the cut off.

Sen. Lindsey Graham introduced this heartless measure in the Senate with the support of 45 other senators. The bill is based on ideology rather than science, and DC Abortion Fund opposes the measure.  

Abortions after 20 weeks are rare, but increasing barriers to access, including mandatory waiting periods, forced ultrasounds, limited clinic options, and high out-of-pocket costs, put patients at risk of having an abortion closer to the 20-week mark. In addition, each week that a patient has to wait to have their abortion procedure performed can add hundreds to thousands of dollars to the price tag and make the procedure more complicated (while still safer than childbirth).

At DCAF, we support patients who need later abortions the same way we support patients who need earlier abortions. We are appalled at this legislation, and promise to serve our patients as we always have: with dignity and respect.

Now more than ever, patients are relying on abortion funds to help cover some of their costs. Please consider donating to DCAF. Your gift helps us remove some of the financial barriers that patients face when trying to access an abortion, and sends a message to Congress that we will not stop fighting for and with our patients.

If you have senators, please contact them at (202) 224-3121 and ask them to oppose this cruel abortion ban.

What We’re Following: Threat to Last Abortion Clinic in Kentucky

Kentucky could be the first state in the nation without a single abortion clinic, depending on the outcome of a recent federal court case. The Louisville abortion clinic EMW Women’s Surgical Clinic is the only open clinic in the state and closure would severely limit safe, legal and high-quality reproductive healthcare for women.

EMW, joined by Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, filed suit in 2016 after receiving notice that the clinic’s abortion license was to be revoked. The state cited deficiencies in transfer agreements from the clinic to local hospitals even though it was originally approved. A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order so that the case would remain open until a judge ruled on it. The groups are asking U.S. District Judge Greg Stivers to overturn regulations that they argue are medically unnecessary and create an unconstitutional barrier to abortion. The three-day trial concluded on September 8, but a ruling could take months.

Back in January this year, the Kentucky state legislature passed two new laws limiting abortion access: one making it illegal for women to get abortions at or after 20 weeks of pregnancy and the other requiring women to obtain and view an ultrasound before having an abortion.

Lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood, who are representing the clinic, argued that the state’s regulations “impose an undue burden” on a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion. These regulations are cited by the Kentucky government as the reason for revoking the clinic’s abortion license.

According to the Courier-Journal, during the trial a state health regulator blamed hospitals, saying they failed to provide sufficient agreements with EMW. EMW and Planned Parenthood alleged that the state pressured or intimidated hospital officials into declining to enter into these agreements.

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

by volunteer Amy M.

You are not alone. We support you.

“The Trump administration’s decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) leaves 800,000 DREAMers and immigrant youth who call the US home at risk of deportation. For many of them, the US is the only home they’ve ever known. Without DACA, they don’t know what their futures hold or if they will be able to stay in this country. The DACA program provided peace of mind and a voice, including things that many of us take for granted, such as the ability to pursue higher education and hold a driver’s license.

“Rescinding DACA is yet another act of white supremacy. It is rooted in racism. The same systems that pardon people like Joe Arpaio and orchestrate mass deportations are the ones that are putting our ability to access health care at risk. We all deserve protection, health, and freedom no matter our immigration status.

“We at DCAF believe that borders shouldn’t get in the way of people’s health, education, livelihood, or family. We condemn the administration’s actions and are holding our community close during this time.

“Our community is stronger when we stand together. We will continue to serve our patients, regardless of immigration status. To our patients, volunteers, and community members who are impacted by this uncertainty: You are not alone. We support you.

“We encourage everyone to visit weareheretostay.org for resources and opportunities to take action now.”

by DC Abortion Fund Board of Directors