Friday, March 04, 2011

Abortion Support Network update

Remember how a few weeks ago I blogged about the Abortion Support Network running out of funds?  Well they've sent this update to all their supporters andI thought I'd share.

(All permissions given of course)

ASN recently sent out our third fundraising appeal (thanks to all who donated!), in which we said that the recent and exponential increase in calls had put us at risk of running out of reserve funds. We’d like to apologise to those of you who took this to mean that ASN was at risk of closing down – we’re not! – and briefly explain how abortion funds work.

Abortion funds are a band-aid solution to the larger problem of lack of access to affordable, safe and legal abortions. As ASN helps women in need, more women find out about us. Then we help more women. Then we tell people we helped women, and more people give us money. Then more women call us, and we help more women. An abortion fund will never have enough money to help all the women who need help accessing abortion, so at times we may have to suspend our grant giving until we have more funds. All an abortion fund can do is to try and help as many women as it can, through grants, by giving information, by negotiating discounts with clinics, and by raising as much money as we can.

The main reason we ask (and ask, and ask!) for Standing Orders is so that it helps us guarantee a certain amount of income and grants each month. We are also very lucky to have a donor who gives us a Standing Order each month specifically to cover our phone bill. Because of this, all other individual donations, unless specified, go directly to help women.

Finally, ASN can still help women, if and when we don’t have money for grants. We can continue to tell women which clinics have the lowest fees, how to access medical abortion via Women on Web and how to contact local family planning services. And put women up in our host’s homes of course.

It can be frustrating being involved with an abortion fund because someday there will be a woman who we will not be able to help. We consider ourselves very fortunate that, due to the incredible generosity of all of you and the success of our recent appeal that day has not yet come. But as more women learn about our services, we will be spending more and more money helping more women. This is a good thing! Or, as a good friend who runs a fund in the US once said, “If you’re not running out of money, you’re not doing it right.”

Our recent appeal
Thanks so much to the more than 50 people who donated well over £1,500.00 to ASN. You are all amazing! We also wanted to remind people who have set up a Standing Order or Direct Debit to our bank account to please let us know so we can track your gift. Otherwise, while we can see that the money is coming in, unless you donate via PayPal (which we don’t recommend as PayPal charges high fees) we often cannot see who the money is from.

We are hoping to soon get to the point where we can count on £1,000 per month in Standing Orders, and your contributions are a huge boon towards this goal. Thank you!

Women we’ve helped
This month we heard from 17 women – our busiest month yet – including eight calls in one day. The women included:
A woman who, after two miscarriages, was finally pregnant. Sadly however, antenatal testing showed severe foetal malformations.
A woman struggling to support her teenage boys with a part time job. Her husband recently left her and refused to help her with child maintenance or the cost of the termination.
A single mother of a young child, scraping by on benefits in a hostel. She was able to get a loan for £300 which barely covered the cost of her travel. She had to take the ferry as she doesn’t have a passport.
A woman who came for a 2-day procedure without arranging accommodation. We were able to find her a last-minute host.
A young mother of two who had severe post-natal depression after her last child. Her partner is aware and supportive but can’t help financially and they are unable to tell anyone else about the pregnancy due to fear of stigma. They paid some bills late to raise £250 and we were able to pay the balance of her procedure and flights.
A single parent of 2 young children who she supports on lone parent’s allowance. The man involved in the pregnancy is abusive and would force her to continue the pregnancy he knew about it; so she has told no one. We were able to get a reduction from the clinic.

Finally, one of the ASN phone coordinators received this text from the father of the 19 year old girl mentioned in our appeal, who was pregnant as result of rape:
You’re an angel of grace thank you so much from my wife myself and [our daughter] we are ten minutes away from home and thanks to you and your wonderful organisation everything went perfect today and now we can all get on with our lives after weeks of torment I will never forget what you have done to help us through this process thank you so much

ASN thanks these women and men for sharing their stories with us, and for permitting us to share them with you.

Recent news and upcoming events

ASN in the News
Sarah Fisher of the Communications Committee recently wrote an article on ASN that was printed in the Newsletter for the Humanist Association of Northern Ireland. Check it out (page 8-9)!
Pro Choice Happy Hour
And, we hope you can make it to our next Pro Choice Happy Hour on Monday, 14 March from 7-10 pm at the Old Star Tavern in Westminster. Unlike previous events we’ve held at the Old Star, this St Patrick’s Day themed PCHH will be held in the lower level of the pub. We will have baked goods available for sale!
Film Screening
Have you saved the dates for one of the upcoming screenings of “Abortion Democracy: Poland South Africa”? The film, which will be shown in aid of ASN in Warwick (9 May), Bristol (10 May) and London (11 May), shows how, inconceivably, it’s easier to get an ILLEGAL abortion in Poland than it is to get a LEGAL abortion in South Africa. All three screenings will include a Q&A with director Sarah Diehl. Stay tuned for venues and times!

Speaking of the Film Screening . . .

We are looking for a venue for the London screening of this film, either a room that seats 50 or an actual cinema. Have any leads? Please email us.

Get involved
ASN is currently seeking two types of volunteers: volunteer hosts and a volunteer phone coordinator. We are specifically seeking hosts who live near the clinics that women who need to stay overnight are most likely to attend, which means we are looking for hosts in easy commuting distance to Ealing, Richmond, Brixton and Streatham. We also seek a London-based phone coordinator. Please contact us if you are interested in one of these roles.

Thank you!

In addition to thanking all of you, our fabulous and committed supporters, I wanted to take a moment to thank our wonderful and committed phone volunteers. Each week, one of them juggles answering the ASN phone and client email with work, family and other commitments. Each week, they deal with women in distress, and sometimes in extremely traumatic situations. It is probably fair to say that each of us has felt like crying at some point while on the phone. And yet – there is something wonderful about the knowledge that, thanks to your support, we are able to help these women.

And speaking of our ability to help these women, remember that a donation or a Standing Order helps support women who desperately need access to safe and legal abortions.

Donations – via Standing Order, money transfer, PayPal or in the ASN bucket at one of our events – are urgently needed and gratefully received.

Every penny given to us by individual donors goes directly to help women.

If you have been thinking of making a donation, setting up a Standing Order, or telling your friends about ASN, now would be a great time to do so.
Thank you again for all your support. Without you, we wouldn’t have been able to provide accommodation, financial assistance, and confidential, non-judgemental information to the more than 100 women in difficult circumstances who have contacted us.

With best regards

Abortion Support Network

You can read more about the ASN on their website.

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