Just Go Balls Out, Already


Cross-posted at the The Abortioneers (re-posted with permission)

Honored to be invited to guest post at The Abortioneers, I was mulling topic options for my fifteen minutes of honorary tangential abortioneer fame: hmm, do I want to rail about the class warfare being waged, right now, on the bodies of the poor? (Seriously? How pedantic can I be?) About the darkest of language arts used so skillfully against us all by the likes of Frank Luntz? (What do I think I am, a semiotician?) Maybe I should just steal someone else’s words, someone like Lynn Paltrow, who sums it up so perfectly that I tried to use an entire paragraph* of hers as my defining Facebook profile quote for a while? WAIT, JUST WHAT AM I TRYING TO GET AT IN ONE PITHY BLOG POST ANYWAY? when an email from a friend came in, a distraction amidst distractions:

Subject: Do you know of any resources for this woman?


And you KNOW what kind of resources she’s going to be asking about.

And no, I DON’T know of any resources for this woman, who it turns out is majorly screwed by geography and circumstance. She’s in a town on the far western side of South Dakota, smack in the middle of the country, a good six hour drive from the only abortion clinic in her state and a little further still from the nearest clinics in Montana, Wyoming or Colorado. And even though she’s only a couple of weeks into a pregnancy that she tried to prevent with a dose of emergency contraception she could barely afford—giving her a couple more weeks’ time to scramble for $500, fast—how the hell is she going to get time off from the job she just started and who the hell is going to watch her three kids while she’s gone on her twelve hour odyssey (not including pit stops or the entire day at the clinic)? And oh yeah, she doesn’t have a car.

All of that is BEFORE her state’s 72-hour “cooling off period” takes effect.

I HATE these emails. I HATE them. As an honorary tangential abortioneer, I don’t directly provide abortion care but I do know that the abortion fund in Minnesota is nearly dry. I know that the abortion fund in South Dakota is, too. I’ve answered the phones at my local abortion fund hotline and I’ve heard the resignation in women’s voices when the most we can pledge just isn’t going to be quite enough. It is, as you can imagine, a horrible sound.

I work part time for the National Network of Abortion Funds, and I’ve worked for Pro-Choice Resources, my local organization that houses an abortion fund. That may be what earned me an honorary tangential abortioneer post, and it may be why my friends forward emails like these, with the glimmer of hope that I just might know about a secret stash hidden somewhere in the supply room. But the only stash I know about is the one we’re padding right now: the get-your-friends-and-lace-up-your-bowling-shoes stash.

A bowl-a-thon for abortion access? Seriously?

Is that really the single answer to the wealth inequality gap? No! But it is a way to DO SOMETHING TANGIBLE, NOW. Last year, over 1,000 grassroots activists, including the beloved Abortioneers, bowled their hearts out and raised $180,000—that would pay for a lot of twelve-hour car trips—in the first ever national abortion access bowl-a-thon. And this year, they’re aiming even higher, because the stakes are even higher.

So for everyone who wants to do something, for everyone who wants to get a conversation going about the realities of abortion access, for everyone who is fed up with the endlessly creative methods restricting abortion all over the country, join me: GO BALLS OUT FOR ABORTION ACCESS. Start a team. Join a team. Get your own individual page up and “bowl” virtually. Pledge to raise $50. Or $150. Or $1,000. Can you do it? Who knows? It’s worth a try! Do it for the women all over the country stuck in a city without an abortion provider, women without transportation, women who need an emergency abortion fund now.

*Today’s highly politicized and polarizing abortion debate creates the false and destructive illusion that there are two kinds of women—women who have abortions and women who have babies. The reality is that they are all the same women and they are all increasingly facing state control, as well as limitations on access to care as a result of conflicts with professional organizations, imposition of religious directives in health care institutions, anti-abortion/fetal rights laws and rhetoric and issues concerning health care financing that interfere with their ability to make decisions regarding their pregnancies, birthing options, the childbirth process, their lives and their families’ well-being.

Lynn Paltrow, National Advocates for Pregnant Women

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