(Am in a rush so can't check the formatting of this - hope it goes up ok)
Extra! Extra! Read all about it! ASN helps to change the abortion debate
Welcome to your ASN eBulletin. July was an exciting month for Abortion Support Network! The All Ireland Pro-Choice Rally helped raise awareness of the issue. ASN’s standing order campaign reaches its target – now onto the next one! If you have the time and desire to make a direct impact on a woman’s life, ASN is seeking a volunteer 'phone coordinator.
Ireland’s pro-choice community takes a stand
If you are reading this, it will come as no surprise that Ireland’s abortion laws are amongst the strictest in the world. Recently, both Ireland and Northern Ireland have been plastered with anti-abortion billboards, and the pro-choice community decided to fight back with a rally to counter the anti-abortion “vigil” held annually in Belfast. You can see a video of the event here. BIG HUGE THANKS to the organisers of the All Ireland Rally for Choice who raised £187 / €250 for ASN! Thanks also to Pro-Choice Belfast and Choice Ireland for their donations.
Two weeks after the pro-choice counter rally in Belfast, ASN volunteers Nick B and Anne Q attended a pro-choice planning meeting in Dublin on 28 July. Organised by key pro-choice campaigners and activists, the meeting was timed to follow the rally and to precede the ‘expert’ report in response to the ABC case ruling, expected in October 2012. For more information about activism in Ireland, go here.
Looking for a way to quickly inform your friends about the situation for women in Ireland who need an abortion? Check out this video from the Irish Family Planning Association (ifpa).
ASN in the news
The events in Ireland have brought media coverage of ASN, including:
The University Times, 4 July 2012 “Is there always a better answer?”
The Guardian, 6 July 2012 “More Irish women seeking help for abortions, says charity” (“says charity” – that’s us!!)
Il Journal, 7 July 2012 “Andare all'estero per abortire/Going Abroad for Abortions”
The Irish Times, 17 July 2012 “Abortion and the Cash Crux”
The Irish Examiner, 24 July 2012 “Restrictions hit poor women first”
We also came across this piece that ran in the Irish Examiner in June:
The Irish Examiner, 15 June 2012 “Women cannot afford abortion in Britain”
Can we point out how completely awesome it is that so much media coverage is highlighting the economic injustice of criminalising abortion!
Big thanks also to Emma Campbell for allowing the Irish Times to use her photos of ASN volunteers Mara and Ann. Emma is the writer and photographer who created "When they put their hand out like scales", a beautiful and powerful book about the journey of women from Ireland to England for abortions that includes photos of and quotes from a few of ASN’s volunteers.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Just over a year ago, ASN launched our Standing Order campaign with the hope of reaching £1,000 per month in regular income. As of today, we are at £1001 per month! (minus PayPal fees for those donating that way, but let’s not split hairs). Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Feel like you’re missing out on the joy each month of knowing your donation will go directly to helping women travel and pay privately to access a safe legal abortion? Info' on how to donate (and fill out a gift aid form) can be found here. Please be sure to let us know if you make a donation so we know who you are and can thank you!
Women we’ve heard from
In July, ASN heard from 27 women seeking assistance, including:
A young woman who was so afraid of anyone overhearing her conversation with us that she requested all contact be via email.
A mother of two who become pregnant after getting a contraceptive implant.
A young woman living at home, whose family financial difficulties are such that they had recently sold the family car to cover food and other costs.
Emails from women:
“I am worried about the possibility that I am pregnant but will not be certain for another week and a half as I am not home at the moment but I just want to have all the information now so I can deal with this as safely and quickly as possible. I have found your site so wonderful and you have no idea what it means as an Irish person to know that you are committed to helping us.”
“I am in receipt of social welfare and I am in bad debt with my credit union and I cannot ask them for any loans. When I told the man I was in a relationship he said he was not responsible and left me alone. I feel very depressed and I am certain I cannot have this baby as [I have young children] and I am financially in a very bad place and another child is not what my family or I need. I have very little support or family to help me and I could not approach them for help. I wonder if you could get in touch with me.”
We thank these women and men for allowing us to share their stories.
The women we don’t fund
Every month, ASN receives calls and emails from women in a variety of circumstances. Many of these women, after our initial contact with them, never get back in touch with us. In these cases, we have no way of knowing if these women decided to continue their pregnancies, if they were able to access an abortion without our assistance, or, our fear, that circumstances – an abusive partner, a lack of childcare, the inability to obtain a visa in time – kept them from travelling. These are the women who haunt us.
Wanted: ASN 'Phone Coordinator
These case studies, which we shorten and strip of identifying details, can’t capture how lost, angry, overwhelmed or scared some of the women who contact us sometimes are. ASN is contacted by women who have never booked tickets online, women without credit cards, women who think they can raise a certain amount of money but call us last minute to let us know they have far less, women without passports, women who have health problems that make abortion in a clinic setting impossible, women who think they are at one gestation and arrive to find they are in a higher price bracket.
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 24-48 hours? You might make an excellent ASN phone coordinator. 'Phoners take the 'phone for one scheduled week every five to six weeks and are trained and supported throughout their shifts. Email ASN if interested.
Can’t be a 'phoner but have a couch and live near a clinic?
We are looking for hosts who live within an easy commute of London’s Richmond, Ealing, Streatham or Brixton clinics as well as hosts based close to the clinics in Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham and Liverpool. Have a spare room, pull out sofa, or air mattress and the desire to host a woman in need? Get in touch!
International Day to Decriminalise Abortion
28 September is the International Day to Decriminalise Abortion. In our next eBulletin we hope to have more information about activities happening in London around the day (hopefully involving ASN volunteers!) but in the meantime, you can learn more about the campaign or sign up for updates. What will you be doing?
Spotlight on the National Network of Abortion Funds
Speaking of work being done internationally to fight for abortion justice, we’d like to take our hats off to the National Network of Abortion Funds. While 93 NNAF funds are US-based, ASN is one of just four international funds under the NNAF umbrella. Check out this super cool poster showing why “Abortion Funds Rule!” and check out the larger work that you, as an ASN supporter, are a part of.
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.