Three total strangers met in 2017, aghast at the state of civil rights in this country.
We shared some commonalities - we grew up fighting for civil rights. We marched for equal pay, abortion access, LGBTQ rights, and gender equity in the 1970s, 80’s, 90s, 00s, and, yes, in 2017 after the inauguration of 45.
Nothing much had changed since we started advocating in the 1970s: out of our circle of high school friends, about one in four had an abortion; women earned 64 cents for every dollar a man earned; workplace harassment was commonplace.
Fast forward to our meeting in 2017: white women were making around 80 cents per every dollar a man made (women of color weren’t even close); the me-too movement was around the corner; and our daughters, nieces, and neighbors rights to choose were in even greater peril than ours were in the 70s, despite technology making the procedure safer than removing a wisdom tooth.
So, how did we three go from being civil rights advocates to becoming abortion funders?
We realized after decades of marching, signing petitions, and calling our congress people on the issues we cared about that we needed a new approach. We wanted to have a direct impact on the vulnerable women and girls in our neighborhood. To empower them. To support them.
We decided to directly fund abortions.
We started with writing checks to our neighborhood abortion clinic with donations of $5 to $20 received from our like-minded family, friends and neighbors. In two months, we had raised $1,000 – enough to help a handful of women who could not afford their procedure.
We established a relationship with the women who run the clinic so that they would call when a homeless woman, a battered woman, or a woman with insufficient funds came across their door. No questions asked, no need to know details, we just wrote a check.
Within a couple of months, the administration at the local domestic violence shelters had our phone number. A few months later, our name was on the street and calls started coming in directly from women in need.
Thanks to our small network, we never had to say no to a request. One time we came close – we were down to $495 in our fund and a request for a procedure came in for $675. We were less than $200 short – but that was enough to delay the woman’s procedure. We started the drive to the clinic – just four miles away - after putting the word out on our Reproductive Health Facebook page that we were short. By the time we arrived at the clinic, we had pledges for the entire amount.
As more women found us, we realized we had to diversify our funding. Dipping into the same pockets of friends, family and neighbors could only get us so far, no matter how much they supported us and a woman’s right to choose. We began presenting our mission at local Rotary meetings, NOW meetings, to like-minded corporate donors and family foundations. We lucked out in finding a passionate volunteer event planner who created some amazing fundraisers
We found a whole new network.
In one year, we tripled in size.
We three strangers went from helping a handful of women in our neighborhood to funding abortions in three counties, at seven independent clinics and with the support of hundreds in our community – all in less than two years.
If we can do it, so can you.
For more information on the Tampa Bay Abortion Fund’s journey, contact our volunteer media coordinator, Lily Wright, at firstname.lastname@example.org, 727.314.3956 and follow us on Facebook.com/TBAFund/
Addendum A 2019:
1. One in four women in the US will or have had an abortion.
2. 77% of people in the US support a woman’s right to choose.
3. Women most adversely affected by abortion restrictions are
low income and/or women of color.
4. 60% of abortions are conducted by independent clinics.
Addendum B Who do we help?
"I'm a single mother of two - a 3-year-old and at the time an 8-month-old. I found out I was pregnant in the beginning of January and felt like I was in an impossible situation. My hands are completely full. I'm mentally, physically and emotionally drained and barely making ends meet. I was faced with making the most difficult decision of my life, a position I never in a million years I thought I would be in, especially since I thought we were being careful. TBAF helped me at my most vulnerable time. When no one else could help me, they did. I will be forever grateful to them and their services."
Sincerely, CG 2019
Don’t think you can start a fund? So, what CAN you do?
Work with your local clinic/shelter to:
1. Offer transport to a woman day of their procedure.
2. Offer childcare to a women day of their procedure.
3. Collect heating pads, Midol and menstrual pads to give to women post procedure.
4. Volunteer as an escort at your local clinic.Find your nearest fund and, well, fund them.