Let's start this month's post with some transparency: July was a rough month for me & I never posted my top picks. With that being said, August is going to be a better month (I'm working on that speak-it-into-existence thing). So, here we are. Last I left you, we were all reading Willie Parker's Life's Work (I hope you enjoyed it; I definitely did), and I was off to the National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF) annual summit (IT WAS MAGIC, YOU GUYS. PURE MAGIC.). Now it's August, so let's close out this summer with some of the things that are making me happy right now.Read more
Happy June, everyone (& Happy Pride Month!). We are finally getting into the late-spring/early-summer months and there is so much that is making me happy. Let's do it.
Starting today, May 1st – Happy May Day, y’all! - during the first week of each month, I will share a blog post of FIVE things that I recommend to read/watch/listen to/do related to social and reproductive justice (and one thing that I’m looking forward to reviewing next month). This is directly inspired by my monthly “top picks” on Twitter (which range from new tv shows, podcasts, recipes, and pretty much anything that is making me happy). Creating and sharing my top picks has not only been a way to recommend things I think are important, I also love getting feedback and recommendations from others. I hope that is what these monthly picks will do too; that this is not just a go-to list, but also begins an intentional conversation in our communities – starting here.Read more
As we approach our second anniversary, I am amazed at how much BAF has grown in just two short years. When we first launched our helpline in October 2014, we were only taking calls from Baltimore residents, and with a very meager budget, we were only able to help 6 or 7 people each month. These days our volunteer case managers hear from nearly 100 callers every month, and thankfully, we’ve been able to help more and more people each month as well.
We’ve also grown geographically. Even though we started out serving only the Baltimore community, our hope was that one day we would be able to help folks all over Maryland access the safe abortion care that they need. In June 2015, less than a year after we launched, we were able to expand beyond Baltimore, into several of the surrounding counties.
Thanks to the overwhelming support and generosity of our supporters, BAF continues to grow, and I am happy to announce that we are once again able to expand.
Effective immediately, BAF is able to offer assistance to residents of all Maryland counties, except for Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.*
The decision to exclude these two counties from our expansion was a tough one. While the need for funding is great across our state, we know that people in more rural areas like western Maryland and the Eastern Shore face additional barriers (few providers, lack of public transportation) that increase the out-of-pocket costs for abortion care. As we grow, we will continue to evaluate our ability to fund individuals in all Maryland counties. For now, we feel that focusing our latest expansion on these communities is in line with our goal of prioritizing those with the greatest need.
As always, thank you for your continued support of BAF, and for making choice a reality in Maryland.
*Montgomery and Prince George’s residents should contact the DC Abortion Fund for assistance at 202-452-7464.
A year ago today, the Baltimore Uprising reached its boiling point, in West Baltimore, at the corner of Penn & North where the now-infamous CVS was burnt down. I visited Sandtown-Winchester last weekend, where a new CVS stands in its place, rebuilt with new bright red brick and white banners welcoming shoppers, assuring the community that they are open for business. It's a striking development, a new building standing proud above the Penn-North Metro station, a bustling corner full of life.
What hasn't changed in Sandtown? Almost everything else. Grand rowhomes marred by decades of vacancy line North Avenue, and the police presence in the area is still heavy, surveilling the community as residents walk outside, take their children to playgrounds, and socialize with each other. There still isn't a full-service grocery store in the community. Last summer, just a few months after Freddie Gray's death, women who lived in Gilmor Homes, a public housing community in Freddie Gray's neighborhood, came forward to allege that they were sexually harassed and abused by maintenance workers of the Baltimore City Housing Authority (the case was settled in January, but City Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano remains in his position, despite many calls for his resignation). Trials of the officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray remained tied up in court for most of 2015 and 2016 so far, with the first to begin a few weeks from today. Yesterday, a primary election seemingly decided the city's political future for the years to come. The groundswell for change is overwhelming, and yet, Sandtown, and many other areas in Baltimore City, look and feel largely the same as they did before Freddie Gray died.
As we reflect on our city a year after events that have changed Baltimore forever, the Baltimore Abortion Fund again offers support and solidarity with every person in Baltimore City who continues to strive for justice for themselves, their families, and their neighborhoods, in the face of what can sometimes seem like overwhelming odds. As an organization that deals first hand with issues of discrimination, poverty, and healthcare access inequity, we can attest to the struggles those calling our hotline experience. In a city where race and class divisions have simmered for decades, Baltimore citizens have been crying out for help, and have been largely ignored. The homicide of Freddie Gray was not the first case of extreme police violence against Black residents Baltimore has seen, nor was it an isolated incident.
An organization that strives for reproductive justice is one that must publicly stand against racial discrimination because we know too well that race plays an integral part in the reproductive lives of our callers. Lack of housing, jobs, quality education, and safety are forefront in the minds of people who are choosing to raise, or not raise children in Baltimore. High rates of overzealous incarceration split families from their children. Parents in Baltimore struggle to provide for the families they have. People struggle to pay for abortions they need. Baltimore residents are resilient and resourceful, but the system is stacked against many people, no matter how hard they work. Racism needs to be acknowledged in that struggle. Historic racism segmented our city, and present day racist policies keep it that way.
We will continue to offer our assistance to those engaged in the fight to offer all the residents of Baltimore options and opportunities regardless of their race and income. A movement for reproductive justice necessarily includes us working together. Racism has always been deeply felt in the struggle for abortion access, with women of color more likely to need abortions, and less likely to be able to afford them. Until racist policies that codify those barriers are eliminated, there will always be a need for abortion funds, and the Baltimore Abortion Fund will continue to stand with those united against racism.
There are many events in Baltimore commemorating the anniversary of the Uprising this week. See here for a partial listing, and listen to WEAA's thoughtful coverage of Baltimore after the uprising here.
We are a member of the National Network of Abortion Funds, almost 100 funds across the US and beyond. NNAF offers their 2015 statement of solidarity with the protesters here.