As I have done before, here is a copy of the Abortion Support Network's June newsletter, copied from my inbox. I have no involvement with ASN, other than giving them money, and believe they provide a much needed service and do a wonderful job. Read on and consider supporting them:
Welcome to your ASN eBulletin. Between recent media coverage, a change in how Pro Choice Happy Hours are organised and the TWENTY SIX women we heard from this month, there’s almost too much news to fit into this humble eBulletin. Fortunately, there’s room for our biggest news, which is that ASN is now a charity! Now, if only we had an accountant . . . Read on!
· Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
· Pro Choice Happy Hours – Revamped
· Charitable status
· Get involved
· Women we’ve helped
· A woman we didn’t help
· Thank you!
Extra! Extra! Read All About It!
Abortion Support Network has been a media darling lately. First our lovely volunteer Hannah wrote a piece on Supporting Abortion Rights in the UK that was published by Feministe (and reposted by many others!). Then ASN sent out two press releases, Ireland’s Abortion Ban Continues to Impact Women, about the latest Dept of Health figures on women having abortions in the England, and one on the Anti Choice Group Sneaked into Government Sexual Health Advisory Group. This resulted in coverage of ASN in the Irish Journal and ASN’s Anne Q “appearing” on Dublin’s Spin FM. You can listen to the clip via the ASN website.
Pro Choice Happy Hours – Revamped
The Pro Choice Happy Hour is no more. Long live the London Repro Health Happy Hour! Repro Happy Hours were started in New York City by a couple sexual and reproductive health professionals looking for a regular social networking event where they could get some drinks and talk shop with other pro-choice, pro-sexual rights, like-minded people. The success of the monthly happy hours in New York spread, and there are now popular Repro Health Happy Hours in cities across the world. This was, in fact, what ASN was trying to do with our Pro Choice Happy Hours, and we are very happy to hand the torch over to Chelsea R who will be organising these events in future. We hope to see you at the first London Repro Health Happy Hour on 28 June!! Check out the Facebook Group for more information and to get updates on the first event, or send an email for more information.
Yes, you read that right. After more than 10 months of paperwork, ASN has successfully registered with the Charity Commission. Our lovely new Registered Charity Number is 1142120. Thanks so much to Jen, Becky, Nick, and everyone else who helped with the arduous process! Please bear with us while we sort out details like putting the number on our website and deciding what route we will be going regarding Gift Aid. And while we’re on the subject, are any of you knowledgeable about Gift Aid? Please get in touch! We could use some advice.
As a volunteer-run organisation, ASN counts on its wonderful volunteers and supporters to help the women who contact us. We are currently seeking the following volunteers. Please contact us if you are interested in one of these roles.
Do you like it when people show you the money? We are seeking an accountant. We need either someone who can help us manage the day to day financials (paying invoices, keeping an eye on our bank balance) or someone who can help us do our annual accounts and ensure that we are correctly reporting our activities to the Charity Commission. We currently have one person doing both of these roles, which we’d like to split between two people.
The phone is the link between women in difficult circumstances and the funding and information that can help them. Do you live in London and have a cool head, a calm phone manner and the ability to return phone calls and emails within 24 hours? You might make an excellent ASN phone coordinator. Phoners take the phone for one week every four to five weeks and are trained and supported throughout their shifts.
We are looking for hosts who live within an easy commute of Richmond, Ealing, Streatham or Brixton. Have a spare room, pull out sofa, or air mattress and the desire to host a woman in need?
Women we’ve helped
May was an exceptionally busy month for ASN. We heard from 26 women, many of whom had situations even more difficult and complex than the “norm”. We are incredibly grateful to our funders, who provide us with the means to help these women when they call, and to our phone coordinators, who deal with each of these women with compassion and care. Women we heard from this month included:
A woman who had funds but no passport. We were able to advise her on getting to England without one.
A single mother who spent weeks struggling with misinformation on the internet before finding ASN. After booking flights she only had £120 for the procedure, and we gave her a grant for the balance. She sent this email upon returning home: “Hi there, i just wanted to say thank you for all your help and support for last week. Right up until last wednesday i could barley eat, or sleep, but now thanks to you i can move on and continue making a better life for my kids, i wanted you to know how grateful i really am for all your help, many thanks”
A mother of a young baby, who became pregnant both times despite taking birth control pills. By the time she was able to confirm the pregnancy and get a scan she was 22 weeks pregnant. We were able to pay the balance of her procedure as well as provide two nights’ accommodation.
A woman whose abusive husband prevented her from getting an abortion, and was only able to could come to England for the procedure after leaving him. We bought her flights and negotiated a reduced fee at the clinic.
A single mother of three who accidentally called an anti-choice crisis pregnancy agency and had one of their “counsellors” calling her several times a day telling her that abortion is murder and that the doctors in England are all butchers who would leave her permanently damaged. We were able to help her pay for the procedure and provided two days accommodation – as well as much needed reassurance and unbiased support.
A teenage girl living with her parents but unable to tell them about the pregnancy. We were able to help her make an appointment at a local family planning clinic for support as well as provide her with info on clinics in England and supporter with a grant towards her abortion.
The mother of a pregnant teen. We were able to give them information about Women on Web, saving them the cost of travelling to England and paying privately for an abortion.
A mother of two living in a refugee camp in Ireland. She had no money and no visa. We were able to put her in touch with an organisation that helped her with her visa and to find a clinic that would provide her with a free procedure.
A woman in a relationship with a man who is against abortion and who threatened her when she said she was considering a termination – including a threat that he would paint “murderer” on her house if she didn’t carry the pregnancy to term. She said, “I always thought I wouldn't do this, but you can't judge anyone, you don't know until you're put in that position."
A woman who only found out she was pregnant after undergoing a major operation. Despite facing serious health problems , numerous complications with this case meant she and her husband had to obtain an abortion in a hospital in England.
ASN thanks these women and men for sharing their stories with us, and for permitting us to share them with you. We also thank the clinics, counsellors and other groups who ensure that these women receive the care they need.
A Woman we Didn’t Help (for all the right reasons!)
We wanted to share with you the story of a woman who, in the end, did not receive a grant from ASN. We were contacted by the mother and sister of a 14 year old girl in the very early stages of pregnancy. Initially, they wanted to fly to England immediately for the termination, but we advised them to wait a week or two in order to see a local family planning clinic (which can save the cost of a consultation fee in England) as well as save them the cost of last minute plane tickets. The girl’s mother had to borrow money to pay for the flights and ASN planned to give a £200 grant towards the procedure. While she was at the clinic, the girl was quite distraught and kept talking about adoption. The clinic gave her some time to think about her decision, but ultimately decided it best to send her home until she was more secure in her choice. The clinic manager told her to go home and think, but also assured her that if she changed her mind again, the clinic would give her a free procedure, and that ASN would help her pay for her flights. We wanted to share this story with you because it illustrates exactly what “pro choice” means. Even if women (or a girl in this case) have made multiple phone calls, booked plane tickets, and crossed international borders, the most important thing we can do is to listen to women and allow them to make their own decisions.
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 women in difficult circumstances who have contacted us.
With best regards
Abortion Support Network